Cracks Show in KMT as Chair Plans China Visit

Cracks Show in KMT as Chair Plans China Visit
Photo Credit: AP / 達志影像 ;Edited Image: The News Lens 關鍵評論網

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The internal divide within Taiwan’s opposition party is showing as some members question the chair’s upcoming visit to Beijing.

Kuomintang (KMT) chair Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) will next month attend a forum on cross-Strait relations in Beijing. There is speculation she may also meet with China President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Hung has led the opposition party since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidency and majority in the Legislative Yuan in the January elections.

Her visit will be the first made by a KMT leader since the election — eight KMT-linked representatives in Taiwan controversially visited China last month — and comes as official communication between China and Taiwan remains suspended.

Beijing froze official communication channels with Taipei after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May. China has since blocked Taiwan's participation in international fora, and there is also concern China has curbed the number of its citizens who can travel to Taiwan.

While some KMT members say Hung’s attendance at the forum will improve relations across the Taiwan Strait, others within the party appear to be less optimistic. There are fears Hung may in fact worsen the KMT’s already-maligned reputation — by being seen as cozying up to Beijing — and further jeopardize the fragile state of cross-Strait ties, according to reports in local Chinese-language media.

“Many” KMT legislators are questioning Hung’s new cross-Strait policy platform, including her interpretation of the so-called “1992 consensus,” and say the party has yet to reach an agreement on it, United Daily News reports.

The 1992 consensus refers to the outcome of a meeting between negotiators from China and Taiwan in 1992. In Taiwan, the main object of dispute over the 1992 consensus is the statement that refers to “both sides recognize there is only one China, but agree to differ on its definition." The KMT says the consensus exists, while the ruling DPP denies its existence, although President Tsai has said that the holding of the meeting in 1992 was a "historical fact."

The KMT has recently adopted a new cross-Strait policy platform that left out the phrase “one China, with each side having its own interpretation,” Taipei Times reported last month.

An anonymous senior KMT legislator is quoted as saying that Hung’s visit could mark the “end of the KMT” if voters interpret the outcome of the meeting as KMT being too close to China, UDN reports.

The dissent may also be indicative of the rift within the KMT, between Hung’s supporters and those who want to see the party modernize and become more Taiwan-centric.

According to UDN, some KMT legislators believe that Hung will use the Beijing meeting as leverage at the next election for party chair. But they suggest the move could backfire if Hung makes inappropriate comments at the meeting.

According to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), the “forum on cross-Strait peaceful development” will be held on Nov. 2-3. TAO spokesperson An Fengshan (安峰山) said the forum will be jointly hosted by non-governmental organizations from China and Taiwan, with support from the Communist Party of China and the KMT.

Speculation that President Xi will meet with Hung on the sidelines of the event remains unconfirmed. There is recent precedent for the two to meet; Xi met with then KMT chair Eric Chu (朱立倫) at the same forum last year.

Hung’s trip has been slammed by the ruling DPP and the New Power Party (NPP).

Additional reporting by Mo Tz-pin

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang