Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) became the first DPP member to visit China since the party unveiled its more China-friendly policy in the wake of its defeat in the presidential election in January.
Lo left for Yunnan, China, yesterday for a two-day academic forum on cross-strait relations after receiving permission from the DPP.
Lo is visiting China in his capacity as a professor, not a DPP representative, DPP acting chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) said. Lo is a professor at Soochow University.
Chu said she granted the permission in line with the party’s positive attitude to encourage bilateral exchanges between the DPP and Beijing.
The visit was seen as an ice-breaker and symbolic as Lo is the first DPP official to visit China since 2008.
Lo, Tung Li-wen (董立文), former director of the DPP’s Department of Chinese Affairs, and Chen Sung-shan (陳淞山), former director of former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) office, were invited to participate in the forum, which came after former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) suggested in her farewell speech that the party actively increase its engagement with China.
The forum was organized by the Research Center for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, which was established by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office in September 2000.
“The DPP has always maintained a positive and open attitude toward appropriate cross-strait exchanges, as well as multilateral and multilayer interaction, hoping that we would better understand China and for China to hear the real voice of the Taiwanese people,” DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said.
“The visit shows that the DPP is not opposed to engagement with China,” former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) said.
Lo said prior to his departure yesterday that he would try to relay two messages to his Chinese counterparts — that the DPP represents 45 percent of public opinion and a change in regime is a norm in all democracies.
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) party whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said the TSU continues to prohibit party officials from visiting China, adding that the party would not engage in any form of exchange with Beijing unless it is based on the principles of respect for Taiwanese sovereignty and reciprocity.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said it welcomed Lo’s visit to China.
“The trip is significant in the development of cross-strait relations ... we are positive about the trip,” KMT Mainland Affairs Department director Kao Hui (高輝) said.
Saying the DPP has many experts well-versed in China affairs, Kao urged the party to respect those experts’ opinions, adding that it was good for the DPP to reach out by having a presence at the seminar.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih