KMT vice chairman makes controversial visit to China
Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) Under fire for heading to China while Beijing pressures Taiwan militarily, opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said Wednesday he was going to show support to Taiwanese businessmen there and would not be deterred by China's military exercises.
The trip has sparked controversy, coming as China continues a high pressure military and economic campaign against Taiwan in retaliation for a visit to Taiwan by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other U.S. moves seen as veering away from its one-China policy.
The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's main agency in charge of China affairs, said Tuesday night that it was not the right time for political party members to visit China given Beijing's intensive military drills targeting Taiwan that began on Aug. 4.
The visit might lead to confusion in the international community about how Taiwanese perceive China's military threat to Taiwan, it said.
Before leaving for Xiamen on Wednesday, however, Hsia said there might never be a proper time for a visit to China in the eyes of the MAC, noting that the agency gave the same opinion when he planned to take part in a cross-Taiwan Strait forum in China last month.
After Hsia left, President and DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said at a DPP meeting Wednesday that the trip has not only disappointed Taiwan's people but could send a wrong message to the international community.
According to a KMT source, the main purpose of the trip was to meet with Taiwanese businesses in China, and the delegation will spend most of its time in the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta regions where Taiwanese businessmen are concentrated.
It will be a fact-finding trip aimed at understanding the problems faced by Taiwanese businessmen in China, who have struggled due to the pandemic over the past two years and have been ignored by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, the source said.
The delegation will not visit Beijing, and it had no plans to discuss political issues with representatives of the other side of the strait, the source said.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, the KMT said the trip was unrelated to China's military exercises and had been arranged since June.
The delegation had originally planned to go to China during the Straits Forum in July, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said.
The trip was backed by KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), who said the KMT, the international community and President Tsai hope for peace across the strait and that the two sides of the strait should maintain communications and exchanges.
The more difficult it gets, the more the KMT cannot give up the chance for exchanges with the mainland and for peace and to avoid getting involved in conflict and confrontation, Chu said.
But the trip had its detractors within the party.
New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) of the KMT said Wednesday that visiting China at this moment was "debatable" as the country should be united in the face of Beijing's rising military threat.
At the same time, a member of the KMT's younger generation, Pingtung County Councilor Huang Ming-hsien (黃明賢), launched a petition earlier Wednesday calling on Hsia to cancel the trip.
Before leaving, Hsia responded that there were many different viewpoints in a diverse society and said he respected different opinions.
Hsia's delegation will begin its itinerary in China on Aug. 21 after completing the mandatory 10-day quarantine and return to Taiwan Aug. 27, according to the KMT.
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