Kuomintang vice-chairman Andrew Hsia will head the group as they travel to discuss cross-strait affairs and meet Taiwanese residents on mainland Delegation’s visit will be ‘strictly apolitical’, says source with island’s main opposition party
Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party will send its vice-chairman to mainland China for talks with Song Tao, head of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, and other senior officials involved in cross-strait issues.
Andrew Hsia will head a KMT delegation to visit the mainland for 10 days from Wednesday for exchanges and dialogues with officials and Taiwanese people based on the mainland, the KMT said in a statement on Monday.
The visit, which will also be an opportunity for the KMT delegation to learn about the views and needs of Taiwanese residents on the mainland, will take Hsia and his group to Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chongqing and Chengdu, the KMT said.
“Paying attention to Taiwanese people on the mainland, reflecting their opinions to relevant authorities, and interactions with personnel involved in cross-strait affairs will be the three major purposes of the visit,” it said.
The statement said arrangements had also been made for the delegation to visit Song for exchanges and dialogue “based on parity and dignity”.
Song, 67, a veteran diplomat best known for an ice-breaking visit to North Korea in 2017 as President Xi Jinping’s special envoy, replaced Liu Jieyi, 65, as head of both the Communist Party’s Taiwan Work Office and the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office in December.
During their meeting in Beijing, Hsia is expected to discuss Taiwanese public opinion with Song and express his concerns about cross-strait security as well as peace and stability in the region, the statement said.
The vice-chairman will also convey to Song the wishes of the Taiwanese people, especially those in the farming and fishing industries as well as small and medium enterprises, it said.
The KMT said because of the Covid-19 pandemic, strained cross-strait relations and suspension of official communication channels, mainland-based Taiwanese students, business leaders and residents had faced tremendous pressure regarding the protection of their rights and interests.
With both sides relaxing Covid-19 quarantine measures, there is a need for the two sides to resolve their disputes, including the mainland’s ban on grouper and farm products, and Taiwan’s policy on allowing individual tourists from the mainland to visit the island, the statement said.
The KMT said as a major political party, it needed to help ease the cross-strait stalemate and promote the people’s interests so the two sides could start a new era of friendly ties.
The KMT delegation is expected to stay in Beijing for three days.
In addition to holding talks with Song, the delegation hopes to meet Wang Huning, a key Politburo Standing Committee member with a strong background in Taiwan-related policy, a KMT source said.
Wang Huning is expected to replace Wang Yang as head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
“The visit would help refresh the KMT communication channels with the mainland following Beijing’s reshuffle of its senior officials involved in cross-strait affairs,” the source said.
The source said the delegation’s visit would be “strictly apolitical” and they would not reach or sign any agreements on behalf of the island’s government.
Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman with the Taiwan Affairs Office, said Beijing welcomed Hsia’s visit to promote the well-being of the two sides, increase mutual trust and maintain peace “under the political basis of the one-China principle and opposition to Taiwan independence”.
It will be Hsia’s first visit to the mainland this year following a “fact-finding” trip on August 10 to understand the needs of Taiwanese communities there.
That trip drew harsh criticism in Taiwan as it came as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) staged unprecedented live-fire drills around the island. Beijing held the military exercises, which lasted for 10 days, in retaliation for a visit to Taipei by former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.