KMT vice chair resigns as Taichung government advisor
Taipei, Aug. 13 (CNA) Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (夏立言) has resigned as an advisor to Taichung City Government in the wake of a much criticized trip to China.
In a statement issued Saturday, Taichung City Government said that Hsia, who departed for China on Wednesday and is currently undergoing 10-days of quarantine for COVID-19, tendered his resignation on Friday and the city government will respect his wishes, while expressing gratitude for his contribution and assistance.
Hsia's China trip has sparked controversy, coming as Beijing continues its high pressure military and economic campaign against Taiwan in retaliation for a 19-hour visit to Taipei by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week.
It has drawn strong criticism in Taiwan not only from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party but also from some of his colleagues inside the KMT.
Taichung City Government said Hsia contacted Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), the city's deputy mayor on Friday to tender his resignation, saying the turmoil surrounding his trip has caused trouble for the city government so he decided to resign his position as an advisor and a member in the city's international affairs committee.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the KMT, who had said it was not an appropriate time for Hsia to visit China, urged him to stay but the KMT vice chairman insisted on standing down, according to the city government.
Among the critics of Hsia's trip to China, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's main agency in charge of China affairs, said Tuesday night that the visit could lead to confusion in the international community about how Taiwanese perceive China's military threat.
In addition, President and DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said at a DPP meeting Wednesday that the trip not only disappointed Taiwan's people but could send a wrong message to the international community.
Inside the KMT, New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) said Wednesday that the merits of visiting China at this moment are "debatable" as the country should be united in the face of Beijing's rising military threat.
Prior to leaving Taiwan on Wednesday, Hsia said there are many different viewpoints in a diverse society, adding that he respects different opinions.
A source from the KMT has said it will be a fact-finding trip to better understand the problems faced by Taiwanese business people in China, who have struggled over the past two years due to the pandemic and been ignored by the DPP.
In addition, Hsia's delegation will not visit Beijing and has no plan to discuss any political issues, the source said.
KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), who has voiced his support for Hsia's trip, said on Saturday that before Hsia's departure, the party had consulted with China affairs experts to determine whether the visit should go ahead.
Chu said Taiwan and China need a channel to engage in exchanges and communication at a time of escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
Without any proper communication channels, China could intensify its military threat against Taiwan and even terminate the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), signed by Taiwan and China in June 2010, when the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was president, with an aim to remove bilateral trade barriers, Chu said.
While Chu admitted Hsia's trip could adversely impact the KMT's chances in the upcoming local government elections scheduled for November, he emphasized that the visit is a positive move for Taiwan.
"The KMT insists on doing the right thing," Chu said.
In 2021, China and Hong Kong were the largest buyers of Taiwan-made goods, purchasing US$188.91 billion, up 24.8 percent. In the first seven months of this year, Taiwan's exports to China and Hong Kong totaled about US$113.10 billion, up 8.5 percent from a year earlier.
Hsia's delegation is set to return to Taiwan on Aug. 27.
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