Senior Taiwan opposition leader to visit China

TAIPEI: A senior leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan’s main opposition party, will visit China this week and meet its top Taiwan policymaker, the party said, amid continued military and political tensions between the two sides.

China has during the past three years ramped up pressure on Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty, including staging regular military drills near the democratically governed island.

Taiwan’s government rejects China’s territorial claims.

The KMT said its deputy chairman, Andrew Hsia, would leave for China tomorrow and meet Song Tao, the new head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, in a rare high-level interaction between top politicians from Taiwan and China.

Hsia, a former Taiwanese diplomat and one-time head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, and his delegation will “conduct exchanges and dialogue on the basis of equality and dignity”, the KMT said.

They will “reflect Taiwan’s latest concerns about the security of the Taiwan Strait and expectations for peace”, the party added.

The Mainland Affairs Council said the KMT had informed it of the trip, adding that Taiwanese politicians who visit China should “reflect” the Taiwan people’s insistence on maintaining democracy and peace and not enter into any authorised negotiations.

“We welcome Hsia’s visit,” Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said in a statement yesterday.

On the common political goals of adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing “Taiwan independence”, the Communist Party of China was willing to strengthen exchanges with the KMT, enhance mutual trust, and deepen exchanges and cooperation, she said.

“We will work together to advance cross-Straits relations, safeguard peace across the Taiwan Straits and improve the interests and well-being of compatriots on both sides of the Straits,” Zhu added.

The KMT traditionally favours close ties with China, but strongly denies being pro-Beijing.

Hsia visited China last August, on a trip condemned by Taiwan’s government, shortly after Beijing staged war games near Taiwan to express anger at a visit to Taipei by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.China has not spoken with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration since she took office in 2016, believing she is a separatist, and has rebuffed frequent calls from Tsai for dialogue to resume. — Reuters/China Daily/ANN

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