Eric Chu to attend KMT-CCP forum

The China Post news staff and CNA

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu said on Sunday that he plans to lead his party’s delegation to an annual forum with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) early next month in Shanghai but deferred on whether he will meet with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The 10th KMT-CCP forum, called the ��Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum,�� was scheduled for last year but postponed for various reasons, until May 2-3, sources told reporters on Thursday.

The plan is to discuss issues related to youth, culture and economic interactions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Chu said.

On the question of whether his schedule will include a meeting with Xi, who is general secretary of the CCP, Chu said that is another issue and will be dealt with later.

The 53-year-old mayor of New Taipei, Taiwan’s most populous municipality, is seen as the KMT’s best chance of winning the presidential election in 2016.

The upcoming KMT-CCP forum has been a point of contention between Taiwan’s two major political parties, the KMT and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Chu said on Sunday that it is in Taiwan’s best interests not to link party ideology to cross-strait affairs.

��Cross-strait relations should not be constrained by ideology, and should be free from party or individual maneuvering,�� Chu said, when asked to comment on a recent statement on the issue by the DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen.

Tsai, who is seeking the DPP’s nomination to run in the 2016 presidential election, said Saturday that President Ma Ying-jeou’s government has been conflating relations between the KMT and the CCP with cross-strait ties.

Tsai said people in Taiwan are unhappy with the way the KMT has been handling cross-strait ties because it tends not to distinguish between KMT-CCP relations and cross-strait relations.

In response, Chu said cross-strait relations mean relations between Taiwan and mainland China.

KMT-CCP relations are ties between the two political parties, similar to the links between civil groups and between cities on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, he said. People should not confuse the ties or try to ��discredit�� the KMT-CCP links, Chu added.

He said it is in Taiwan’s best interests for cross-strait relations to be free from party ideology.

The DPP chairwoman said that cross-strait relations should not be limited to the scope of political parties, but must be defined as relations between governments that fully reflect the will and expectations of the people.

Tsai was elaborating on her statement the previous day when she said that cross-strait relations should not be defined by the agenda of the KMT.

She said that since the KMT came to power, it has been compromising in its cross-strait negotiations on behalf of Taiwan.

The ruling party has been first reaching agreements with China, then seeking the approval of the Taiwan people through various maneuvering, Tsai said at a softball event in New Taipei organized by her supporters.

Cross-strait agreements must be negotiated at a government-to-government level to ensure adequate representation, transparency, and oversight by the Legislature and the people, she said.

��Taiwan is a democratic nation, and the democratic process must be upheld,�� Tsai stressed.

She further said that cross-strait relations will progress only when the required democratic procedures are observed to ensure that the will and expectations of the people are met.

��I believe that our expectations of government-to-government level negotiations are shared by the public,�� Tsai said.