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September 19, 2017

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DPP revives China affairs department

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has revived a China affairs department to enhance its understanding of a country that has never shown friendliness to Taiwan, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said yesterday.

The people of Taiwan have been very friendly to China, which has never reciprocated the friendliness, Su said, as he explained the pro-independence party's move to set up a China affairs division.

Taiwan needs to strengthen itself and better understand all of China's intentions, he said.

The setting up of the new department is not a move of "surrendering" to China, Su explained.

"We need to work hard to understand China," he said during a public event. "The people hope to see a good development of relations with China, but there must not only be one-sided expectations for friendliness. We must be careful."

Su became chairman of the DPP several months after the party lost in the presidential election; A poor relationship with China was seen by many as one of the major causes of the defeat.

Hung Lung-tsai, chief of the DPP's new China department, admitted that there have been calls from within the party to revise DPP's cross-strait policy, according to the United Evening News.

But a revision to the DPP's cross-strait policy will require a consensus from all sides within the party, he was cited as saying.

Hung pointed out that his department's main objective is to enhance the party's understanding of China, and its establishment is meant to be a gesture of goodwill toward China, he added.

He maintained that there is no doubt both sides will further open their doors to one another, but the most important thing is to maintain a "balance" in terms of cross-strait development.

President Ma Ying-jeou's cross-strait policy aims to separate economic issues from political disputes, but Hung said that the separation is not possible.

He maintained that it is increasingly important to emphasize Taiwan's autonomy amid the quick rise of China.

Cross-strait issues are expected to play a key part in determining the DPP's candidate for the 2016 presidential election, as well as its chance of winning.

Former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, who (according to political commentators) is eyeing a comeback in the 2016 race, has expressed a wish to visit China. Tsai yesterday explained that she would not be going to China just "for the sake of going."

If she is offered a chance to go in the future, she will still have to determine whether the purpose or time is right, she said.

Commenting on Tsai's prospect of visiting China, the DPP chairman said although the party has rules that regulate official visits to China, there wouldn't be a problem if Tsai wanted to go.

Meanwhile, the KMT criticized the DPP for its inconsistent attitude toward China.

KMT spokesman Ma Wei-kuo said Su has taken part in protests against the signing of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). But Su has also said he would honor ECFA if elected president, he added.

Su last week criticized the latest investment protection agreement signed between Taiwan and China, but Ma questioned whether the DPP chief would change his mind in favor of the new pact in the future.

The DPP has been "swaying" in order to gain political interests, the spokesman said.

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