Mutual goodwill, equal footing key to China exchanges: KMT chair

09/15/2020 01:26 PM
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KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang
KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang

Taichung, Sept. 15 (CNA) Cross-Taiwan Strait exchanges should be based on mutual respect and held on an equal footing, the head of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) said Tuesday, a day after his party pulled out of a forum in China because of what it saw as a demeaning remark by a Chinese commentator.

KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said the party's last-minute decision to not attend the 12th Straits Forum that opens on Sept. 19 in Xiamen was made due to the complexity of the current cross-strait situation.

"The current situation is unfavorable for the KMT to attend the forum as a party, and we don't want to force ourselves to attend the forum under these circumstances so that similar future exchanges can remain possible," Chiang said.

Chiang was referring to a comment made by Li Hong (李紅), a host of a talk show on China Central Television on Sept. 10, two days after the KMT announced that former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party's delegation to the forum.

During Li's show, which focused on cross-strait affairs, CCTV highlighted on the screen a headline summarizing Li's comments: "With the strait on the brink of war, this man is coming to the mainland to plead for peace."

The comment implied that Wang and the KMT were heading to China to show subservience to Beijing in cross-strait affairs, and it stirred controversy and anger in Taiwan.

In response, the KMT has asked Li to apologize for the comment, but the request had not been answered before the party announced on Monday afternoon that it would not send a delegation to the forum.

The KMT, however, did not bar its members from attending the forum in a private capacity.

Commenting on the withdrawal, Chiang said the latest incident has highlighted the importance of conducting cross-strait exchanges based on the principles of "mutual trust and goodwill and on an equal footing," principles he said his party has always upheld.

He called on both sides of the strait to continue to uphold these principles for the benefit of long-term exchanges and to maintain peace.

Chiang said the KMT has other communication channels with mainland China and the forum is just one of them, amid a recent warning by former KMT chairman and ex-President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who said the lack of cross-strait platforms for dialogue was dangerous for both sides.

Meanwhile, Chiang said he had no problem with Lin Rong-te (林榮德), a former interim KMT chairman, attending the Straits Forum as a private citizen.

Chiang said Lin is also a Taiwanese businessman based in China so it is only natural that he would want to attend the forum to promote the welfare of Taiwanese businessmen there.

However, later Tuesday Lin announced that he is canceling his plan to join the forum, “in accordance with KMT policy” and because of a busy schedule.

The Straits Forum, initiated by Beijing and first held in 2009, is a platform for cultural cooperation and economic exchanges between China and Taiwan, co-sponsored by numerous organizations across the Taiwan Strait.

The KMT has seen the forum as a symbol of peace between Taiwan and China and had sent delegations to the forum every year.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration, however, has urged Taiwanese individuals and political groups not to attend the annual event because doing so could be in violation of national security laws.

The DPP has argued that the forum has been used by Beijing to drum up support among Taiwanese for Chinese President Xi Jinping's plan to unify China and Taiwan.

(By Chao Li-yen and Joseph Yeh)


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