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DPP makes little concrete progress in China policy debate
Central News Agency
2014-01-09 10:06 PM
Taipei, Jan. 9 (CNA) The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ended an important policy debate Thursday without making any changes to its stance on Taiwan-China relations, except that it will try to create a "friendly environment" for Chinese students, tourists and spouses in Taiwan. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said the results of his party's "China policy review of 2014" -- though not making any progress on the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty -- showed that the party "is seriously facing issues, trying hard to respond to society's calls, and adjusting its attitudes in a timely fashion." But the party failed to make any headway in regards to the island's status vis-a-vis China because party heavyweights could not agree on former Chairman Frank Hsieh's proposal to use a "constitutional consensus" formula to replace the ruling Kuomintang's (KMT's) "1992 consensus" that has been an important political basis for Taipei and Beijing in handling cross-Taiwan Strait relations. Instead, former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen pushed forward her proposal to settle the problem with a "Taiwan consensus," a proposal that was later adopted by the party's China Affairs Committee. The murky content of Tsai's "Taiwan consensus," however, has been seen as having cost her a chance to defeat the KMT's Ma Ying-jeou during the 2012 presidential election. Su told the media on Thursday that it was not his "personal decision" to trash Hsieh's proposal in favor of Tsai's. "It was the committee's joint decision, which is final," he added. He said the party "attaches great importance to" civilian exchanges with China, and has promised to "gradually review and amend the laws to create a friendly environment for Chinese students, tourists and spouses to enjoy studies, tours and life in Taiwan." Reiterating his view that Taiwan must survive on the foundation of its democracy, Su said the DPP will seek to stabilize cross-strait relations and develop the island's economy to ensure a dignified existence and to meet the people's expectations. After the DPP's policy debate was wrapped up, Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai-based Institute of Taiwan Studies, was blunt in giving a thumbs down on the DPP's "failure to find a direction" in its cross-strait policy. "If (the DPP) cannot win the ruling power in 2016, its talent will wither away for lack of any stage to perform. As it consumes its own energy fastidiously, it will help drive Taiwan down the drains because time is on the side of the mainland," Ni said. Meanwhile, a former government official also said it would be unlikely for Beijing to engage with the DPP in a more active way without seeing an adjustment in the DPP's long-standing political position. Tung Chen-yuan, a National Chengchi University professor who had been a deputy mainland affairs minister during the Chen Shui-bian administration, attributes the lack of a major shift in the DPP's position to the upcoming election of the party chairman -- in May -- and the low approval rating of President Ma Ying-jeou, which means the party is not motivated to adjust its policy toward China. Tung said he could only hope the new DPP head who will be elected in May will be able to lead the party to a "new phase" by putting forth a new China policy that can help the party win the presidential election in 2016. (By Justin Su, Rita Cheng, Jay Chen and S.C Chang)
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