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Talk of the day -- Lai criticized for remarks on cross-strait ties

2014/06/08 18:37:26

Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has just wrapped up his first visit to China since he assumed duties as the head of the southern city in 2010. During his two-day visit to Shanghai that ended Saturday, he spoke in favor of more exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and China.

His remarks sparked criticism from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), known for being friendlier toward Beijing, which accused Lai of flip-flopping on his position on cross-strait ties.

The following are excerpts of reports by some local dailies on Lai's visit to China:

United Daily News:

Speaking as chairman of the KMT, President Ma Ying-jeou said that Lai was not qualified to be mayor because he has changed his views and distorted remarks on cross-Taiwan Strait issues.

When Lai was a DPP legislator, he opposed direct flights between Taiwan and China, but since becoming Tainan mayor he has been keen to upgrade the Tainan airport and push for flights to China, Ma told KMT candidates in the year-end elections in the southern city on Saturday.

During his visit in China, Lai said that "in developing cross-strait relations, Taiwan and China should favor cooperation rather than confrontation and should conduct more exchanges instead of blocking each other."

KMT spokesman Charles I-hsin Chen noted that the DPP politician said both sides across the strait should cooperate and engage with each other, but said it was the DPP which has continued to oppose and block bills related to China relations in the Legislature.

The KMT welcomes DPP's expanded exchanges with China, Chen said, urging the opposition party to be consistent on its cross-strait policy. (June 8, 2014)

China Times:

In responses to Chinese scholars' concerns over the independence-leaning DPP's Taiwan independence platform, Lai said the issue of Taiwan's independence should be decided by the people of Taiwan.

The DPP adopted the Resolution on Taiwan's Future in 1999, which advocates that any change to the status quo of Taiwan's de facto independence will require a referendum by the residents of Taiwan. This is the main barrier for official dialogue between the DPP and the Chinese Communist Party.

Several polls have shown that most of the Taiwanese public prefers to maintain the status quo. Given that fact, the DPP could consider freezing its Taiwan independence platform, which would be conducive to promoting the party's exchanges with China.

Asked about the issue, Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, said: "We welcome anyone as long as he or she currently favors, supports and participates in the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, no matter what he or she advocated in the past."

China hopes that members of Taiwan's political parties and the general public support cross-strait exchanges and cooperation to push for peaceful development of the Taiwan-China relationship, she added.

DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen has said that she welcomes a visit by Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, and hopes for a meeting with him. (June 8, 2014)

(By Elaine Hou)