Kaohsiung, April 29 (CNA) China remained one of major issues in the first of three debates among candidates vying the chairmanship of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Kaohsiung Sunday.
China policy, which is the source of conflict between the island's two main political camps, will be the key to the DPP's return to power in the future, said Su Huan-chih, a former Tainan County magistrate who is one of the five candidates in the party's chairmanship election.
Su said the DPP should regain the spirit it had in the early days and set up a platform to debate different aspects of China policy, instead of criticizing and labeling others.
Meanwhile, former Premier Su Tseng-chang said the party has to face China but must maintain its stance of a Taiwan consensus, Taiwan's sovereignty as a country, and the right of Taiwan's 23 million people to decide the country's future.
In addition, the former premier said the DPP should learn about China from a wider perspective, not just its economic side or its ruling Communist Party. At the same time, China should be given the chance to better understand Taiwan and the fact that DPP has the support of 6 million votes (in the last presidential election) and represents the land of Taiwan, Su said.
However, former Legislator Chai Trong-rong said identifying with Taiwan and protecting Taiwan's sovereignty is the most important force uniting the party, and the DPP must maintain this stance.
Former Vice Premier Wu Rong-i further said the Taiwanese public is wary of the direction of the government under President Ma Ying-jeou, which seems to be leading Taiwan to move closer to China.
Several of the candidates also noted the importance of relations with the United States, with Chai saying the DPP should lobby for Americans' support, which is crucial to the party winning elections.
Wu said Taiwan should increase exchanges with U.S. think tanks and help them to understand that "without Taiwan, you (the U.S.) will face trouble."
Citing former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Su Tseng-chang said Taiwan has to maintain good ties with the U.S. since it is a small country that has little influence with global powers.
The DPP will hold two more debates -- one in Taichung on May 6, the other in Taipei on May 12 -- for the candidates, who also include former DPP Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang. The chairmanship election will be held May 27.
(By Lin Shen-hsu, Wang Shu-fen and Kay Liu)