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June 25, 2017

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Ex-DPP chairman confirms visit to mainland

TAIPEI -- One-time Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Frank Hsieh said Monday he was willing to take the first step by his party in reaching out to China and confirmed he will head there Thursday for a five-day visit.

Hsieh, who also served as premier from February 2005 to January 2006, will become the most senior member of the previous DPP administration to visit China.

Hsieh described his upcoming visit as a "trailblazing" journey, saying that faced with the emergence of China in the international community, the DPP could not be left marginalized on cross-Taiwan Strait issues.

"If our party stays unchanged in this area, it will be very difficult for us," said Hsieh, who currently serves as a member of the DPP's Central Executive Committee but is officially traveling to China in his capacity as head of a foundation.

"As a political party, we have the obligation to represent Taiwan and speak up for our rights. We also have the obligation to protect our Taiwanese businessmen there," he said.

"If the ruling Kuomintang joining hands with the Communist Party of China to deal with the DPP becomes a norm, I'll be extremely worried that talk of our return to power will be nothing more than a legend," Hsieh said.

The DPP has long been seen as pro-Taiwan independence and anti-China, but it has considered revising its China policy after losing the 2012 presidential election in mid-January.

The former premier suggested that nobody would oppose the DPP holding exchanges with the Communist Party, but he noted that because the two parties have historically lacked mutual trust, the DPP has faced many difficulties in taking the first step forward.

The former premier, who was invited to China by the International Bartenders Association, said he would have "more leeway" on this trip because he does not hold any public offices at present.

Hsieh will leave Thursday for Xiamen in Fujian province, where he will make an offering to his ancestors and speak at Xiamen University before leaving for Beijing Friday.

Once there, he will visit Beijing National Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest," and attend an international bartending competition.

Hsieh, who will be joined on the trip by Yunlin County Magistrate Su Chi-fen and DPP legislators Lee Ying-yuan and Chao Tien-lin, did not know if his first step will stall or open new doors but said it represented an additional option for the party.

"If I cannot make any progress, It will be my responsibility alone."

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