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Hsieh heralds good will as key to cross-strait ties

Frank Hsieh of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who is on a landmark visit in China, said on Saturday that sincerity and good will are the key to overcoming differences between Taipei and Beijing.

“The two sides have to face, respect and deal with the differences between them in the future. And although they need more time, they can overcome the differences as long as there is sincerity and good will,” Hsieh told reporters after visiting the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

Echoing Hsieh, Yu Keli, director of the institute, acknowledged that time is needed to resolve differences between the two sides.

Yu said he welcomed more DPP members to pay private visits to China, which he thinks can enhance mutual understanding and help build consensus.

According to the Central News Agency, Hsieh yesterday hinted at the possibly of meeting political figures from the mainland government in the next two days. “I will let everyone know” if such a meeting takes place, Hsieh was quoted as saying. The media speculated that a meeting might happen this afternoon, when Hsieh will have free time due to a schedule change.

Hsieh said he will apologize to the media if he is not able to notify them due to the suddenness of unscheduled meetings or out of respect to the other parties' privacy. He added that it would be impolite for him to bring the entire press entourage to a meeting when the other side might only want to have a word with him, the CNA reported.

Hsieh, a former premier in the DPP's Chen Shui-bian administration, is on a five-day visit to the mainland. He is the most senior DPP official to visit China.

While the stated main purpose of the visit is to attend the International Bartenders Association World Cocktail Championship in Beijing on Sunday, Hsieh has also used the opportunity to pay respects to his ancestors in southeastern China's Fujian province, as well as meet with Chinese academics and Fujian's local government officials.

The visit, which began with Hsieh's arrival in Xiamen on Oct. 4, is being widely watched as many see it potentially opening a path for Taiwan's main opposition party to establish contact and dialogue with China.

The two sides have long been at odds over the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty. The party has traditionally supported Taiwan's independence and separate identity from China. It has also rejected the “one China” principle and the “1992 Consensus” as the basis for developing relations with China.

Under the consensus, which Taiwan's ruling party accepts, both sides recognize there is one China, but agree to disagree on what that means.

Hsieh said on Friday during a tour of Xiamen University that Taiwan and China needed to address their differences before their economic relations can advance to a higher level.

Merely “agreeing to disagree” is insufficient to cope with the current challenges in cross-strait economic exchanges, said the politician who has been considered more flexible toward China affairs than other members of the DPP.

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Former Premier Frank Hsieh makes his way toward a gallery in Beijing on Saturday, Oct. 6. So far, Hsieh is the most senior politician from the China-skeptic opposition party to visit the mainland. (AFP)

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