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June 29, 2017

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Much symbolism but little concrete in Hsieh's China trip

Frank Hsieh, the unsuccessful standard bearer of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2008 presidential election against Ma Ying-jeou, has made his long-wished-for "Journey to the West" to prove he isn't an incorrigible Taiwan independence bigot cum China-hater. The trip was successful, but not rewarding.

It's the second visit the former chairman of the DPP and ex-premier has made to China. He visited Amoy and Beijing 18 years ago while he was a member of the Legislative Yuan. At that time, he wasn't even a heavyweight, and the Chinese paid little attention to his being an independence-minded China hater.

This time around, however, Hsieh was welcomed as a defector of sorts from the pro-independence opposition party, and that's the reason why quite a number of party leaders are adamantly opposed to what he calls his five-day "trailblazing tour" of China. Officially, he visited Beijing as a guest of the International Bartenders Association to attend its World Cocktail Championship, albeit he professed he would try to break the ice frozen over the relationship between his party and the Chinese Communist Party, which has ruled mainland China for 63 years. Despite the courteous welcome given him in Amoy and Beijing, he couldn't blaze the trail for his party for any meaningful dialogue with China's ruling party.

But that is not Hsieh's fault. For one thing, he is passe, while still entertaining a hope to run for president again, though he has declared retirement from politics. For another, the DPP can't begin dialogue with the Chinese communists unless it amends its "independence" party charter — and it's impossible to amend it in any foreseeable future.

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