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Talk of the Day -- KMT under pressure to host forum in Taiwan?

2012/04/14 21:47:46

Beijing authorities are reportedly pushing Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) into hosting this year's cooperation forum with the Communist Party of China in Taiwan to mark a new breakthrough in relations across the Taiwan Strait.

The first KMT-Communist Party forum took place in 2006 in Beijing and the format has since been followed annually with only minor differences, such as changes in host cities in China.

At the end of forums held after the KMT regained power in 2008, KMT and Communist Party officials have talked about hosting the next forum in Taiwan, but such a goal has not yet materialized.

People familiar with cross-strait affairs said Chinese authorities have expressed their hope that this year's forum will be held in Taiwan.

Wang Yi, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, has also said he hoped to visit Taiwan to attend such a forum, the sources said.

Wang is currently in the United States, and a local newspaper quoted a senior U.S. official in charge of East Asian affairs as saying earlier this week that the U.S. government was a bit surprised by Wang's request to visit Washington, D.C. at this moment.

According to the official, Wang's current visit was not a regularly scheduled one.

The official told the United Daily News in an interview on April 10 that Wang was scheduled to meet with Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns on April 12 to exchange views on cross-strait affairs.

The paper published the interview in its Thursday edition, which covered Taiwan-U.S. issues and cross-strait ties, but did not reveal the name of the U.S. official.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the latest developments in Taiwan-U.S.-China relations:

Liberty Times:

When the KMT and the Communist Party held their first cooperation forum in 2006 after decades of hostility, the KMT was in opposition. At the time, the Chinese party used the forum as a political platform to propagate its policy toward Taiwan.

In the wake of the KMT's return to power in 2008, however, the forum has gradually lost its appeal. Previous reports suggested that the forum might be scrapped following President Ma Ying-jeou's re-election in January.

But KMT sources said the forum will definitely be held this year, probably in the summer.

The sources also confirmed that Chinese authorities hoped this year's forum would be held in Taiwan.

KMT authorities remain hesitant to accept such a proposal, however, given the political sensitivity of staging such an event in Taiwan, and wanted to see the 2012 forum held in China again, the sources said.

Some Chinese officials have suggested previously that the forum's opening and closing ceremonies be held in China's Xiamen and the Taiwan-held Kinmen Island, respectively, to symbolize cross-strait reconciliation, but the sources said the KMT disagreed with such an arrangement because the time was not yet ripe. (April 14, 2012).

China Times:

Wang Yi told Taiwanese and Chinese reporters stationed in Washington, D.C. after his meeting with Burns on April 12 that KMT honorary Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung's recent visit to Beijing marked yet another big step forward in cross-strait engagements.

But he deflected questions on his view of Wu's description of cross-strait ties during that visit as a "one country, two areas" formula. He said cryptically that Beijing defined Wu's meeting with Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao, who doubles as Chinese president, as a party-to-party meeting.

Asked what message China would like to hear when Taiwan's President Ma delivers his second inauguration speech on May 20, Wang said anything positive regarding cross-strait relations would be welcome.

"We of course look forward to hearing some positive messages as peaceful development in cross-strait relations would benefit both sides," he said. (April 14, 2012).

United Daily News:

During an interview with this paper in Washington, D.C. on April 10, the U.S. official said the U.S. government did not expect that KMT honorary Chairman Wu would bring up the "one country, two areas" issue during his recent visit to Beijing.

Previous media reports said the Obama administration had expressed its dissatisfaction over Wu's statement to Taiwan's government, but the U.S. official did not criticize the move himself during his interview with this paper.

In an interview with this paper on April 12, Jason Yuan, Taiwan's representative to the U.S., said Taiwan had briefed the U.S. on Wu's visit to Beijing in advance and that U.S. authorities were fully aware of Taiwan's basic stance on cross-strait relations.

Taiwan has upheld the "zero surprise" or "zero accident" principle in engagements with the U.S., Yuan said. (April 14, 2012).

(By Sofia Wu)
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