Former Chairman of the Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Frank Hsieh, has begun his “trailblazing” trip on the Chinese mainland. Hsieh visited his ancestral home in Fujian Province on Thursday, stopping to pray in a temple on Dongshan Island.
Austin Ramzey reports for Time magazine:
Hsieh first visited China 18 years ago and had hoped to make a return in 2000, but was blocked by his party. Now Hsieh, who served as Premier from 2005 to 2006, is the highest-profile DPP official to make the trip, a key step in bettering the party’s image on China issues. “It’s very important for the DPP to figure out how to maintain good relations with China,” says Tung Chen-yuan, an expert on cross-strait relations at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University. “Although they need to defend Taiwan sovereignty, on the other hand they need some kind of resolution for getting along with China. This is important for the DPP to get elected in 2016.” This summer DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang reopened the party’s China Affairs Department, which he called a sign that the party wants to take a more active approach to cross-strait relations. China’s Communist Party knows that it has to deal with the opposition party. While it would prefer to see a KMT government in Taiwan, the possibility of a DPP return to power in 2016 can’t be ignored. “If the Chinese government would like to resolve the issues between Taiwan and China then the Chinese government needs to construct a consensus with the DPP,” Tung says. “The KMT cannot represent all Taiwanese. Even if the KMT remains the ruling party in 2016, in the long run the CCP still needs to build confidence and trust and consensus with the DPP.”
The DPP advocates de jure independence for Taiwan, as opposed to the “One China” policy favoured by the KMT and on the Chinese mainland.