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DPP divided on Taiwan Independence freeze
DPP to hold key China discussion on Jan.9
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-27 05:37 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Democratic Progressive Party was divided about the proposal from its legislative chief whip Ker Chien-ming to freeze its Taiwan Independence clause, but China welcomed the suggestion Friday.

Ker launched the unexpected idea at a China policy discussion by party leaders Thursday afternoon, though he added that the proposal only represented his own views. The main opposition party was planning to hold a key meeting of its Chinese Affairs Committee on January 9.

Ker defended his idea of a freeze with the argument that it would help the DPP create an atmosphere of goodwill to establish better relations with China. Beijing has frequently refused to talk to DPP leaders as long as the party does not forsake its support for Taiwan Independence.

The Taiwan Independence platform, which was adopted in 1991, advocates the replacement of the current Republic of China government with a Republic of Taiwan and a new constitution.

In 1999, the DPP approved the ‘Resolution on Taiwan’s Future,’ which described Taiwan as already being an independent and sovereign nation outside of China’s ‘One China’ formula. The resolution mentions the need for a new constitution and emphasizes that any change in Taiwan’s independent status needs to be approved by referendum.

Former Vice President Annette Lu said the resolution superseded the Taiwan Independence clause, especially after the country’s first-ever direct presidential election in 1996.

The DPP Chinese Affairs Committee was reportedly working on a document which would emphasize a ‘constitutional consensus’ believed to be close to previous suggestions by former Premier Frank Hsieh.

During visits to China and Hong Kong, the prominent DPP member has emphasized the value of the existing ‘Republic of China’ Constitution, saying each side could recognize that the other side had a valid constitution of its own. Hsieh’s proposal has met with a less than enthusiastic reaction within his own party.

Ker’s proposal for a freeze was also reportedly rejected by DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang, who said Thursday that freezing the Taiwan Independence clause or not was not an issue.

The widest consensus was that Taiwan was already a sovereign and independent nation, he said. Any change would have to be approved by the country’s 23 million residents, but the main task at this moment was to build up the nation, Su said.

Several prominent DPP members reacted surprised to Ker’s proposal. “Taiwan Independence is part of the DPP’s DNA,” lawmaker Chen Chi-mai said. The ruling Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party had never abandoned their basic ideals, so if the DPP tried to just for the sake of improving ties with China, it was not only not smart, but its members would never accept it, he said.

The party’s policies had to change along with the times, but its basic charter and platform had to be respected if it wanted the continued support of voters, according to Chen. A political party which abandoned its basic DNA was asking for people to say goodbye, he said. The DPP should not use Taiwan Independence as an instrument in its relationship with Beijing, he concluded.

Chen also criticized the timing of Ker’s proposal, saying it would cause the DPP trouble in the run-up to the December 2014 local elections.

In its first official reaction, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Friday morning that the move might signify an important step in the right direction at least if the party could reach an internal consensus. The proposal was an active signal, TAO spokeswoman Fan Liqing told reporters.

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