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June 29, 2017

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Tsai speaks to foreign press about cross-strait policies

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday that it would perhaps be preferable to describe the DPP as "pro-Taiwan," when asked whether or not "pro-Taiwan independence" is still an applicable term to describe her party.

The chairwoman made the comments during a question and answer session with members of the foreign press at the DPP headquarters in Taipei.

When asked for her personal take on the proposal to freeze the provision for Taiwan independence in the DPP charter, Tsai said that as chairwoman of her party, it would be inappropriate to express her personal views on the matter at this particular juncture.

The chairwoman added, however, that as far as she can tell, there doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency among DPP members to shelve that provision.

When asked about the Chinese Communist Party's zero tolerance policy against Taiwan independence, Tsai said, "There's always flexibility somewhere."

Responding to comments that the DPP is becoming more and more like the Kuomintang (KMT) in terms of rhetoric, Tsai stressed that there are differences and that in the past, the KMT has been prone to change its rhetoric come election time.

The chairwoman further criticized the ruling party for monopolizing cross-strait ties.

China's understanding of the DPP is to a certain extent largely influenced by the KMT, Tsai said, adding that her party's goal is to provide China with an alternative view.

When asked if there will be more active interaction between the DPP and Beijing, Tsai said that China has shown interest over the past year, and it appears to be more willing to talk in order to "get to know" her party.

Disappointment with DPP over Zhang Visit

Members of social movements and political parties play different roles, and as a political party, the DPP cannot act in the same manner as those involved in social movements, Tsai said, adding that although her party does share common objectives with student activists in certain cases, there are different goals and agendas.

Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), leader of the Sunflower Movement, recently expressed "utter disappointment" with the perceived inactivity of the DPP over Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun's (張志軍) visit.

When asked if she felt that the DPP owed the student activists in terms of raising awareness on controversial cross-strait issues and whether or not her party is concerned that it might lose the support of student activists, Tsai said that it is not a matter of gaining or losing their support, but rather a matter of "constructing a healthy relationship."

The chairwoman further stressed that the DPP and members of the student movement are not competing with each other.

When asked if she viewed the meeting between Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Zhang in a positive light, Tsai said that the meeting was "positive in the sense that it happened." She went on to explain that Chen met Zhang in her capacity as mayor, but that since Chen is a member of the DPP, the event bears a degree of significance in terms of the DPP's relations with China.

China needs to decide whether it wants to face a friendly or unfriendly Taiwan, Tsai said, adding that one has to live in reality and that both sides of the strait need to find a way to accommodate each other.

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