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June 24, 2017

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Aide to former Premier Hsieh urges DPP debate over cross-strait policy

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should establish an integration platform for cross-strait policies, Albert Lin (林耀文), an aide to former Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), said yesterday. DPP spokesman Wang Min-sheng (王閔生), on the other hand, said that his party will organize a discussion.

Hsieh's recent visit to mainland China has sparked arguments within the DPP on how cross-strait policies should be formed.

"We would like to see a formal debate on cross-strait policies. How can there be a consensus without a debate?" said Lin, an influential member of Hsieh's political faction.

"With regard to cross-strait policies, the party currently lacks direction," Lin added. "We hope to form solidarity through a debate, to hear different opinions on Hsieh's 'constitutions with different interpretations' and to find out if there are better ideas."

Hsieh previously proposed the concept of "constitutions with different interpretations" as an alternative to the ruling administration's cross-strait policy guideline of "one China with different interpretations."

"Before setting up a China Affairs Committee (中國事務委員會), the DPP should have a formal debate on cross-strait policies," Lin reiterated, adding that without a consensus, it would be nigh impossible to set up a committee.

Political commentators have argued that the DPP lost the 2012 presidential election because of its stance toward China; therefore, a proposal was made after the election to revive the party's China Affairs Committee, reportedly as a gesture to assure the public that the opposition is capable of handling cross-strait affairs.

"Constitutions with different interpretations" is Hsieh's personal assertion, it is not the position of the party, said DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

In response, Lin said the chairman was right, adding that members of Hsieh's faction are not entirely confident of the notion, and hope to have a debate on it.

"I would like to see the party offer a clear direction on cross-strait policies, or at least set up a mechanism for discussion," Lin said.

When asked if Hsieh's faction will formally request a debate, Lin said that it is the right of the party to decide whether or not to have one, and that he will respect the decision of DPP headquarters.

"We are only suggesting that a debate might be a good idea," Lin explained, adding that the suggestion was made out of the best intentions.

"The chairman already made it clear several days ago that a debate will cause dissension within the party," said Wang. "We hope to invite party members of influence to take part in the proposed China Affairs Committee and use that as an integration platform of ideas."

Cross-strait policies need to be discussed carefully in order for the party to come up with a consensus, Wang said, adding that a single debate will not help that cause.

The idea of setting up a China Affairs Committee was proposed precisely with an aim to provide a platform for consensus forming on cross-strait issues, Wang added.

The party also previously organized a segment on China during its Open Studio forum, inviting various members to attend, Wang said.

DPP headquarters will organize a discussion on cross-strait policies, and it will make an announcement once there is progress, Wang added.

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) visited Hsieh at his office on Thursday, and said afterward that the council values the former premier's opinions and will consider his suggestions.

The minister said that he spoke to Hsieh for an hour and that the meeting was very pleasant. Wang added that he had visited Hsieh to ask him about his recent trip to mainland China. He went on to say that Hsieh's trip was very meaningful.

The government supports cross-strait exchanges, Wang said, adding that the administration is happy to see members of both the ruling party and the opposition endeavor to understand China more.

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