Taiwan warns opposition vice minister’s visit to China threatens ‘internal unity’

Taiwan’s Beijing-friendly opposition party has sent its deputy leader to China on a trip that Taipei warns risks internal division as the country faces unprecedented threats. from the People’s Liberation Army.

Andrew Hsia, a veteran diplomat who served as the country’s top China policy official during the last Kuomintang administration, justified the visit as an effort to support Taiwanese nationals living in Taiwan. China.

“We do not have plans to meet with Chinese officials yet, although of course, they may contact or we may meet them given that we have meetings with Taiwanese businesses,” he said. he told the Financial Times before leaving. on Wednesday morning for Xiamen in southeastern China’s Fujian province.

In spite of KMT said the visit had been planned for weeks and was unrelated to the crisis in the Taiwan Strait, which would likely cause major controversy in Taiwan.

PLA is continuing conduct exercises of unparalleled scale around the island after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei last week. On Wednesday, Xiao Qian, China’s ambassador to Australia, said there was no timeframe for when the country would cease its military operations.

TaiwanChina’s cabinet-level policy agency told local media it had strongly recommended Hsia’s visit. It is quoted as saying: “This move will cause controversy and anxiety in the country, high public suspicion and affect our internal unity. It will also confuse and distort the international community’s perception of the threat that Taiwan faces.”

The Kuomintang has struggled for years to dismiss accusations from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and voters’ suspicions of its involvement with the Communist Party of China. According to a recent public opinion poll, Voter support has dropped to a historic low of 17%.

The opposition party joined the government in condemns China’s military exercises but Hsia dodged questions about whether he objected to the exercises during his trip. “Our position has been consistent and I will repeat that when asked,” he said.

Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, said: “The mainland military exercises are not over yet. The arrival of the vice chairman of the Kuomintang to the mainland was a very important gesture. The two sides need to strengthen communication, especially in the current situation.”

Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and threatens to take it by force if the island resists unification indefinitely. The Chinese Communist Party has tried to use the Kuomintang to undermine the power of the Taiwanese government.

Prior to Hsia’s arrival, Beijing published a white paper on its Taiwan policy, which reiterated its position that “there is no room for doubt nor change that Taiwan is part of China.” Country”.

A Chinese government spokesman said the white paper would help “strengthen the confidence and courage of domestic and foreign forces against ‘independence’ and promote reunification”.

In 2005, when cross-strait relations were at a difficult time following the re-election of Taiwan’s pro-independence party chairman Chen Shui-bian, then-KMT Chairman Lien Chan met with the Communist Party General Secretary. President Hu Jintao, the first meeting between the leaders of the Kuomintang and the CCP. since 1945.

After that, the two sides established regular dialogue, which was fiercely criticized by the DPP as an attempt to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty. The last time a KMT vice chairman visited the mainland was in 2019.

The Kuomintang accepts the premise that Taiwan is part of one China, but adds that the parties reserve their respective interpretations of that China.

Hsia dismissed criticism that his delegation could become a tool of tactics to divide China. “It’s not that we haven’t been targeted by United Front tactics before and don’t know how to guard against it,” he said, referring to a political strategic body of the Communist Party of China.

“But in the end, communication is always better than no communication. We want to do something for our Chinese citizens at a time when the government cannot,” he added.

Hsia said his delegation will try to address issues facing Taiwanese in China regarding restrictions on the coronavirus pandemic and cross-strait trade.

Additional reporting by Nic Fildes in Sydney

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