Political parties divided on Tsai's remarks on cross-strait relations

10/10/2020 10:10 PM
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The KMT
The KMT's flag raising ceremony at its headquarters in Taipei. CNA photo Oct. 10, 2020

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) The ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan on Saturday gave mixed reactions to President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) National Day speech on cross-Taiwan Strait relations, with the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) accusing her of not practicing what she preaches.

"If President Tsai is really sincere about holding a dialogue with Beijing, she should be the one to change," the KMT said in a statement after Tsai remarked in her National Day address that her administration is willing to hold "meaningful dialogue" with Beijing to achieve peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

The KMT argued that the president talked the talk but failed to walk the walk, as evidenced by a recent incident involving the annual Straits Forum, held this year in Xiamen from Sept. 19-25.

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

The Straits Forum was first held in 2009 under the then-KMT government as a platform for cultural cooperation and economic exchange between the two sides. However, the official dialogue between the two sides has been suspended since Tsai assumed office in May 2016.

Meanwhile, the KMT also accused Tsai of failing to restrain her party members, many whom it said were quick to make passing judgement and offend those willing to actually work to promote cross-strait dialogue.

Vice President Lai Ching-te (left) is joined by his predecessors Wu Den-yih (second left) and Che Chien-jen (third left), Premier Su Tseng-chang (front row, right), as well as KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (second row, left) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (second row, right). CNA photo Oct. 10, 2020
Vice President Lai Ching-te (left) is joined by his predecessors Wu Den-yih (second left) and Che Chien-jen (third left), Premier Su Tseng-chang (front row, right), as well as KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (second row, left) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (second row, right). CNA photo Oct. 10, 2020

The DPP's legislative caucus whip Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄), however, expressed support for Tsai, saying that the president is assertive about extending goodwill to Beijing.

The ball is in China's court, Chuang said, adding that all there is to do now is to wait and see.

Echoing Chuang's comments, secretary-general of the DPP's legislative caucus Cheng Yun-Peng (鄭運鵬) said Tsai's cautious approach to cross-strait relations is the reason why the international community continues to trust Taiwan.

Elsewhere, the caucus whip for the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶), complimented the president on her National Day speech, saying that the TPP supports her administration's call for peace and parity in cross-strait relations.

New Power Party's (NPP) caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), meanwhile, said as long as China is willing to put aside its differences, Taiwan will of course be willing to hold dialogues with China.

Following Tsai's address, China's Taiwan Affairs Office released a statement, in which its spokesperson Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) slammed the DPP for disrupting the exchanges and cooperation between people from the two sides of the strait and pushing forward a series of "Taiwan Independence" activities.

Tsai is deliberately misleading the people of Taiwan, and any attempt to engage in separatist activities will not succeed, she said.

Zhu added that only by adhering to the so-called "1992 consensus" can both sides of the strait resume their dialogue and improve cross-strait relations.

(By Lin Yu-hsuan, Liu Chien-sheng, Liu Kuan-ting, Chiu Kuo-chiang and Ko Lin)

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