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KMT lawmakers' trip to China receives mixed responses in Taiwan

04/29/2024 10:46 PM
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DPP lawmakers, including the party's legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (second right) question the actions of KMT lawmakers on their recent trip to China, at a news conference in Taipei Monday. CNA photo April 29, 2024
DPP lawmakers, including the party's legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (second right) question the actions of KMT lawmakers on their recent trip to China, at a news conference in Taipei Monday. CNA photo April 29, 2024

Taipei, April 29 (CNA) The visit to China by opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers led by legislative caucus whip Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) drew mixed views in Taiwan, with some worrying about Beijing's political machinations and others viewing it as a gesture of goodwill from China.

Fu, who led 16 other KMT lawmakers to Beijing from April 26 to 28 and met with senior Chinese officials, touted the visit as an "ice-breaker trip," facilitating the entry of Chinese tourists to Taiwan.

However, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the visit was a well-coordinated political drama long planned, criticizing the benefits provided by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government as traps designed to undermine Taiwan.

The benefits Ker referred to are several measures announced by China during Fu's three-day trip, including the resumption of direct air routes between Taiwan and 30 major Chinese cities and the expansion of access to Taiwanese agricultural and fishery products in the Chinese market.

Cross-strait tourism was initially obstructed by the CCP government, Ker said, adding that it is a matter for negotiation between two countries, not something that can be resolved by a few individuals.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said that while it is encouraging to see China expressing goodwill and taking positive action, the extent of the opening is much smaller than expected, referring to the decision by Chinese authorities on April 28 to permit tourists from Fujian Province to visit the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands.

Three years ago, residents from every province in China could visit Taiwan, with residents from 47 cities not required to join group tours, the minister who oversees the tourism industry in Taiwan said.

Travel links between Taiwan and China have been largely frozen for the past three years, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

China halted independent travel to Taiwan on Aug. 1, 2019, citing the poor state of cross-strait relations. It then suspended group travel to Taiwan in 2020.

April 29: KMT caucus whip touts tourism wins following China 'ice-breaker trip'

Hsu Kuan-tze (許冠澤), deputy secretary-general of the think tank Taiwan Economic Democracy Union, said that China has employed a strategy of first partially blocking cross-strait trades to sever economic ties, then reopening them through intermediaries who endorse the "1992 consensus."

This sends a message to Taiwanese that only those who stand with their "One China" policy will benefit, Hsu added.

After establishing preconditions for some measures, China's next move will be to actively seek responses from Taiwan's government, Hsu said.

Those preconditions included permission for group tours of Fujian residents to visit Taiwan only after the resumption of direct sea transport from the Chinese county of Pingtan, in Fujian, to Taiwan, he added.

Straits Economic and Cultural Interchange Association Secretary-General Teng Tai-hsien (鄧岱賢) said that over the past eight years under the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), cross-strait relations have faced obstacles due to political factors and the pandemic.

He viewed China's announcement of measures toward Taiwan as a gesture of goodwill, noting that if President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) could respond in his inaugural speech on May 20, Beijing would be able to understand the goodwill of the new administration.

It is an opportunity to improve cross-strait relations, Teng added.

(By Wang Yang-yu, Wang Cheng-chung, Lee Ya-wen and Sunny Lai)

Enditem/AW

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