Lawmakers head for mainland China on summer break

The China Post staff

With the first session of the new Legislative Yuan ending last Friday, lawmakers of all political stripes are trying to take advantage of their summer break to see the other side of the Taiwan Strait for themselves. Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Her Jyh-huei and 17 colleagues started the first leg of their junket to Beijing yesterday by boarding a China Airlines flight for Hong Kong. Her said they plan to meet with officials in Beijing to exchange views on opening up direct links between Taiwan and mainland China.

The opposition lawmakers are also hoping to discuss relaxing restrictions on mainland Chinese vacationing in Taiwan, he said. While there, Her and his entourage could run into another group of KMT lawmakers headed up by John Chang. Chang and his group left Taiwan for Hong Kong right after the legislative session ended. They are expected to be meeting with mainland officials in Beijing in the coming days to talk about the possibility of direct cross-strait links. Chang said he was hoping to bring back information that would be useful when the Legislative Yuan considers making changes to laws banning such links during the next session. Two groups organized by People First Party (PFP) lawmakers are also scheduled to leave for the mainland in the coming days. PFP legislator Fu Kun-chi says he plans to meet with the two top officials at Taiwan Affairs Office while in Beijing and visit Taiwanese businessmen in Shanghai. The PFP’s Chou Hsi-wei also said he will taking a group of lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties to meet with local businessmen working in mainland China to better understand their needs and concerns. Even the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in the past strong advocates of Taiwanese independence, is hoping to send representatives to the mainland to meet with representatives from the government there. DPP lawmaker Chiu Tai-san said a representative will be sent to the mainland soon to discuss the possibility of arranging such as visit. Chiu said the group will be named the “Economic and Trade Delegation of the Liu-Ling Society” in order to avoid potentially contentious terms such as “DPP” or “ROC lawmakers”. The Liu-Ling Society was formed by one of the many factions within the DPP. However, Chiu said that the delegation would enter and exit mainland China as a group, meaning that objections over a particular member on behalf of mainland officials would effectively scuttle the trip. Still, DPP lawmaker Chang Hsueh-shun said that the trip would only be successful if officials in mainland China responded encouragingly to the proposal. Chang warned against being over optimistic, saying that there was only a 50 percent likelihood that the DPP delegation would actually get off the ground.