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August 21, 2017

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DPP split on party's Taiwan independence clause

TAIPEI--Since a landmark visit to China earlier this month by former Premier Frank Hsieh of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), opinion within the opposition party has been divided on whether to revise the Taiwan independence article in the DPP platform.

Tung Chen-yuan, a former Mainland China Affairs deputy chief, said yesterday that amending the clause will help the party's efforts to develop a cross-Taiwan Strait policy.

The Taiwan Independence Party Platform, which was written into the DPP's basic platform in 1991, advocates the "establishment of a sovereign and independent Republic of Taiwan."

Tung said the clause has given rise to misunderstanding in some quarters and therefore should be revised.

With "democracy" as its core principle, the DPP's independence platform stipulates that no attempts should be made to change the designation of the country without public support, he noted.

Therefore, even if the independence clause is revised, its fundamental purpose of defending Taiwan's sovereignty will still be maintained, Tung argued.

Furthermore, the party will gain greater voter support if it amends the clause, he said.

The DPP has long held a pro-Taiwan independence and anti-China stance, but since the party lost the presidential election earlier this year, some of its members have been advocating a revision of its China policy.

Such views, however, have been opposed by other party heavyweights, including former Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen, who served as DPP chairman 1987-1988.

"The DPP will fall" if its Taiwan independence platform is altered, he argued.

Yao said what the party should do now is put forward plans for the "normal" development of the country and the drafting of a new Constitution.

This will be in line with the DPP's "Normal Country Resolution" that was passed in 2007, he said. The resolution said a new Constitution was needed and that a referendum should be held to "emphasize Taiwan's independent statehood at an appropriate time."

Yao's position on the issue was supported by DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei.

Hsieh visited China in a private capacity Oct. 4-8 and met with Wang Yi, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, and several other senior officials in charge of Taiwan affairs.

Hsieh is the highest-ranking former official from the DPP administration, which was in power 2000 to 2008, to ever visit China.

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