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DPP bigwig may visit Beijing to watch bartending contest

TAIPEI -- Former Premier Frank Hsieh said Friday that he has accepted an invitation from the International Bartenders Association to visit Beijing in October to watch a world bartending competition there.

Hsieh, an influential member of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said he has informed the association that he is willing to go if the required procedures, including flight and hotel arrangements, can be completed without any glitches.

He noted that “October is a sensitive month,” as the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is scheduled for that month, in which a leadership changeover is expected.

“For a person like me (an opposition politician), now may not be the best time to visit. Maybe it will be too much trouble,” he said in response to media inquiries at a tea party held by the pro-independence DPP to celebrate its 26th founding anniversary.

The matter will become more certain in two or three days, Hsieh said.

If Hsieh makes the trip, he will be the first DPP former premier to visit China.

Hsieh, who served as premier between May 2005 and January 2006 in the Chen Shui-bian administration, has been a devoted supporter of the Kaohsiung-based Bartenders Association. He once traveled to Germany for an international bartending contest to show his support for Taiwanese competitors.

Hsieh's possible China trip, however, has drawn opposition from former DPP Taipei Chapter Chairman Huang Ching-ling who said “it is OK to be on friendly terms with China, but not to pay 'tribute' at this seansitive moment.”

Former DPP Chairman Yao Chia-wen has also voiced his opposition to the planned visit.

As Hsieh once broached a notion of “constitutional one China,” Yao said he could not feel at ease over Hsieh's visit to Beijing.

In contrast, Koo Kwan-min, a former presidential adviser and a veteran Taiwan independence advocate, backed the trip, saying Hsieh should have made the trip a long time ago “because China is a very important rival to us.”

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang has so far not made any comment on Hsieh's plan to visit China.

At the DPP anniversary party, Yu Shyi-kun, who also once served as premier during the DPP administration, said that while he supports increased interaction with China, the party should uphold its core values and should never abandon them simply for improving ties with Beijing.

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Former Premier Frank Hsieh, right, shakes hands with an attendee of the Democratic Progressive Party's 26th anniversary party in Taipei, yesterday.(CNA)

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