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Taiwan DPP’s Frank Hsieh arrives in China
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2012-10-04 02:42 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former Premier Frank Hsieh left for China Thursday in what has been billed as a groundbreaking trip for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

Beijing’s Communist regime has often asked the party to drop its support for Taiwan Independence, while the DPP has also been reluctant to let its leaders visit the country because of its military build-up targeted at Taiwan.

Before leaving on his trip, he said he hoped his performance would prove that the DPP had the ability to manage the cross-straits relationship and solve problems for Taiwanese investors in China.

“Doing the right thing, I feel very happy,” he told reporters waiting for him as he left the VIP room at Xiamen Airport. Hsieh actually visited China 18 years ago when he served as a lawmaker, reports said.

“The customs, the culture, the language, I don’t have the feeling I am visiting another place, it’s like visiting the home of a brother,” he exclaimed.

Hsieh emphasized his voyage did not include openly political meetings because those might underline differences of opinion, even though he did not exclude communicating with Chinese officials. In the end, the aim of the visit was for each side to understand the other, he said.

The former DPP presidential candidate and his entourage first flew to Xiamen Thursday morning and visited Dongshan Island in Zhangzhou to pay tribute to his ancestors. He also toured the ‘Widows’ Village’ where the Kuomintang forced all men to join its army near the end of the civil war with the Communists in 1949, leaving about a hundred wives behind. The vice mayors of Xiamen and Zhangzhou met him at Xiamen Airport.

Hsieh announced two new destinations on his itinerary for Saturday, the Academy of Social Sciences and the 798 Art Zone in Beijing. Xiamen University had invited him to participate in a closed-door discussion with about a dozen Taiwan experts Friday, reports said.

The DPP politician was not prepared to say whom he would meet or what he would say during his five-day and four-night visit. He was invited by the International Bartending Association to attend its competition in Beijing Sunday, but his background as one of the DPP’s top leaders has given the trip a heavy symbolic value.

Hsieh has described his visit as turning a new page in relations between the party and China after years of tension. His supporters say the voyage will allow the two sides to build up trust and mutual understanding while giving China a view of Taiwan which it is not receiving from the government of President Ma Ying-jeou.

His first trip would not only include red carpets, but also touching rocks to feel his way across the river and even walking around in the dark, Hsieh explained to reporters.

The DPP politician rejected criticism from some Taiwan Independence supporters that his visit would be interpreted as agreeing with Chinese claims in its dispute with Japan over the Tiaoyutai Islands.

On a visit to the offshore island of Kinmen almost within view of Xiamen, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said Thursday that Taiwan and China could not avoid to make contact, but that if one side kept his fist closed, it would be impossible to shake hands. Only if threats of military force were abandoned, would there be a way of establishing peaceful interaction and build a prosperous future, Su said.

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