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July 26, 2017

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Hsiao Bi-khim's 'personal' China visit stirs speculation

The China Post--Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) left for Shanghai yesterday to participate in an academic seminar as board director of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (台灣民主基金會). Local media have speculated that Hsiao may be serving as a messenger between the DPP and officials in China.

DPP spokesman Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) refuted the speculations and said, "If Hsiao is a messenger, the visit would have been low profile."

In addition, DPP spokesman Wang Min-shen (王閔生) said that Hsiao's visit is personal in its nature and that Hsiao had notified DPP headquarters that she would be going to the mainland.

According to Lo, DPP members who visit mainland China can improve mutual understanding and reduce the possibility of miscommunication.

Hsiao is going to participate in the "seminar of chances and challenges" for the development of cross-strait relationships in Shanghai today. Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) was given an invitation, and will also attend the event in the capacity of board director of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

According to local reports, Hsiao has good relationships with both DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). Her visit to the mainland comes shortly after Chen Yun-lin's (陳雲林) — chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits — visit, which took place from Aug. 8 to 10. Speculation has abounded over whether Hsiao is sending messages on Su's or Tsai's behalf.

After Su became DPP chairman, he announced that his party would reestablish its Department of China Affairs (中國事務部). DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) is reportedly going to propose an amendment to include students from mainland China into the National Health Care system while they study in Taiwan. Local media interpreted these actions as a shift in the DPP's policy toward mainland China.

Su stated that Wu's idea is just his personal opinion and that he has not proposed the amendment draft to the DPP caucus. Su said the idea still requires more discussion.

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