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KMT presidential candidate may visit U.S. in August or September

2015/06/20 13:46:18

Taipei, June 20 (CNA) Arrangements will be made for Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), the ruling Kuomintang's likely candidate for the 2016 presidential election, to visit the United States later this year, KMT Chairman Eric Chu said Saturday.

Such arrangements will begin after Hung is confirmed as the party's official candidate at the party's national convention set for July 19, Chu said.

The KMT will communicate with the U.S. side on the date of Hung's visit, and August and September are both possible times, he said.

In addition to meeting with U.S. officials, another purpose of Hung's U.S. visit is to win the support of Taiwanese expatriates there, he said.

KMT spokesman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中), meanwhile, also said the KMT has been planning to have its presidential candidate visit the United States.

"Hung Hsiu-chu is now our candidate, we will make arrangements for her to visit the Unite States soon," Yang said.

Following a tradition set by former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when he was running in the 2000 election, major Taiwanese presidential candidates have since made similar trips to the United States during their campaign.

In addition to raising funds and rallying supporters overseas, it is widely believed in Taiwan that contacts with American officials on U.S. soil and the media coverage generated by the meetings can help boost the standing of individual candidates, especially if the candidate is perceived to have been accorded courteous treatment while in Washington.

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the candidate of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), made such a trip that received generally positive coverage in the local press.

While in Washington, she held talks with State Department and White House officials including Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in meetings played up by the Taiwanese media.

In order not to lose ground, a front-page story in Saturday's edition of China Times said that Hung's allies believe it is necessary for Hung to make a similar trip before the election.

The paper quoted an unidentified source in the KMT as saying that the U.S. administration is unlikely to support any particular candidate in the upcoming election and is not treating Tsai as Taiwan's next president.

Improvements in U.S.-Taiwan relations in recent years resulted from efforts made by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his KMT administration and Tsai "should not be allowed to reap the harvest," the source was quoted as saying.

When asked about a possible U.S. visit by Hung, the American Institute in Taiwan's director in Taipei Kin Moy said Wednesday that she would be accorded the same level of courtesy as Tsai.

Both women are trying to become Taiwan's first female president. Ma will step down in May 2016 after serving two four-year terms.

(By Justin Su, Claudia Liu, Jay Chen and Y.F. Low)