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KMT denies vice chairman will meet with officials during China visit

12/14/2023 05:39 PM
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KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (second right) attends a press conference with KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (center) and lawmaker Chiang Chi-chen (second left) on Monday in New Taipei. CNA photo Dec. 11, 2023
KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (second right) attends a press conference with KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (center) and lawmaker Chiang Chi-chen (second left) on Monday in New Taipei. CNA photo Dec. 11, 2023

Taipei, Dec. 14 (CNA) Taiwan's main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), said Thursday that its deputy chairman is currently in China to meet with Taiwanese businesspersons there and has no plans to make contact with any senior Chinese officials.

KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (夏立言) is visiting five cities in China, at the invitation of the Taiwanese business community there, and the trip was planned since October, the party said in a press release after Reuters reported that he was expected to meet with Chinese officials.

Citing two unnamed sources, the Reuters report on Thursday said Hsia was likely to meet with officials from China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) during his current "highly sensitive visit," which comes one month before Taiwan's Jan. 13 presidential election.

During the China trip, Hsia will also visit the cities of Chengdu, Nanchang, Zhongshan, Xiamen and Chongqing, Reuters said.

In the KMT's press release, however, the party rejected the Reuters report as "fake news," saying Hsia's visit was a followup to his previous trips to China, with the aim of building on earlier "achievements and goals."

Hsia's last three trips to China were in August 2022 and in February and August this year, and he met with TAO head Song Tao (宋濤) on that third visit, according to previous reports.

On his current visit, Hsia is scheduled to attend the anniversary celebrations of the Taiwanese business association there and hold discussions with Taiwanese business representatives to hear their opinions about the business climate in China, the KMT said.

Such visits are meant to help the Taiwanese business community in China devise solutions to their problems, in the absence of any official communication channels between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the KMT said, referring to the cross-strait stalemate since Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in May 2016.

The "fake" Reuters report on Thursday was nothing more than an "attempted collaboration between the DPP and certain media outlets" to run a "smear campaign against the KMT's efforts to conduct exchanges with the Chinese Mainland and to offer services to the Taiwanese business community there," the KMT said.

In response, DPP spokesman Chang Chih-hao (張志豪) said Hsia's "secret" trip to China a month before the Taiwan presidential election has raised questions and doubts both internationally and among the Taiwanese public.

He urged the KMT to be transparent and not to use "business talks" as an excuse to divert attention and evade scrutiny, as this would only reduce public trust in the KMT. 

Hsia, 72, had served previously as deputy foreign and defense minister, and also as head of Taiwan's China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council, during the KMT administration 2008-2016. Since October 2021, he has been serving as one of the KMT's three vice chairpersons, under Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫).

(By Liu Kuang-ting and Joseph Yeh)

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