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On China, KMT's Hou proposes starting with 'low-level, stable' exchanges

12/10/2023 04:54 PM
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KMT presidential candidate, New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (center) and legislative candidate Chang Chih-lun (second left) cheer for the opening ceremony of Chang's campaign headquarters Zonghe District on Sunday. CNA photo Dec. 10, 2023
KMT presidential candidate, New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (center) and legislative candidate Chang Chih-lun (second left) cheer for the opening ceremony of Chang's campaign headquarters Zonghe District on Sunday. CNA photo Dec. 10, 2023

New Taipei, Dec. 10 (CNA) Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) suggested Sunday that exchanges between Taiwan and China start in the less sensitive educational, religious, cultural and economic realms before official interactions begin.

Hou presented the proposal in response to questions from reporters during a campaign event in New Taipei's Zhonghe District on recent remarks by his running mate Jaw Shau-kong (趙少康) on cross-Taiwan Strait issues.

Jaw, head of the Taipei-based Broadcasting Corporation of China who is known for his "deep-blue" political stance that advocates expanded ties with China, told senior high school students in Taichung on Saturday that "peace is the only option and choice" for both sides of the strait.

If China wished for the same, Jaw said, both he and Hou would ask China not to send its warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, to not have its warships sail around Taiwan, and to end its threat of the use of force against Taiwan.

He added that he would also "possibly" ask China to allow "visits by military affairs observers of the Republic of China" (Taiwan's formal name) to its military deployments in coastal areas, while requesting Beijing to lower the number of missiles deployed targeting Taiwan. 

A student who takes part in Taichung First Senior High School asks his question to KMT vice presidential candidate Jaw Shau-Kong (right, in grey jacket) at a talk organized by the high school' student body on Saturday. CNA photo Dec. 9, 2023
A student who takes part in Taichung First Senior High School asks his question to KMT vice presidential candidate Jaw Shau-Kong (right, in grey jacket) at a talk organized by the high school' student body on Saturday. CNA photo Dec. 9, 2023

Asked if Jaw's request for visits to China by military affairs observers from Taiwan is practical, Hou said Sunday that he believed there were steps for everything, and he would first seek cross-strait interaction in a "low-level and stable" way.

Apart from prioritizing efforts to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capabilities, he would propose, if elected, that the two sides start with "low-level and stable" educational, religious, cultural and economic exchanges before launching an official mode of interaction.

Hou's advocacy of "low-level, stable" cross-strait exchanges first surfaced during interviews with Japanese media outlets in August.

When asked about China issues at the time, he contended that the two sides should resume their cooperation and exchanges that had existed during the period when the KMT was in power from 2008 to 2016.

Hou cited as a model the example of Japan-China relations, which he said was first promoted by people who helped build mutual trust between the two countries before pursuing mutual interests through institutional exchanges.

"Low-level and stable" exchanges should be first achieved, Hou said, reiterating his policy of promoting cross-strait relations in a practical manner.

President Tsai Ing-wen (center) campaign for the DPP's four-term candidate Lin Shu-fen (right, in white top) in Luzhou District, New Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo Dec. 10, 2023
President Tsai Ing-wen (center) campaign for the DPP's four-term candidate Lin Shu-fen (right, in white top) in Luzhou District, New Taipei on Saturday. CNA photo Dec. 10, 2023

Cross-strait dialogue has been at a standstill since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), a member of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), assumed office for her first four-year term in May 2016.

She will be stepping down at the end of her second four-year term in May 2024, and her successor will be chosen in Taiwan's presidential election on Jan. 13, 2024.

Hou will be facing the front-runner, Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) of the DPP, and Taiwan People's Party Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in the race.

(By Kao Hua-chien and Elizabeth Hsu)

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Taiwan People's Party Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (center right) accompanies legislative candidate Lee Yo-yi (front, right) during their visit to a market in Luzhou District on Sunday.
Taiwan People's Party Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (center right) accompanies legislative candidate Lee Yo-yi (front, right) during their visit to a market in Luzhou District on Sunday.
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