DPP, KMT clash over cross-strait policy at political parties debate

One of the questions asked during the Sunday debate, which was held a month before the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, related to China policy and how to safeguard the nation's interests while pushing for cross-strait exchange. (NOWnews)
One of the questions asked during the Sunday debate, which was held a month before the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, related to China policy and how to safeguard the nation's interests while pushing for cross-strait exchange. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the nation’s main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) clashed over cross-strait policy in a televised debate on Sunday that involved representatives from eight political parties.

One of the questions asked during the debate, which was held a month before the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, related to China policy and how to safeguard the nation’s interests while pushing for cross-strait exchange.

DPP spokeswoman Lee Yen-jong (李晏榕) insisted that Beijing must recognize Taiwan as an independent country before cross-strait talks can take place.

In contrast, KMT representative and former Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), reiterated the party’s long-held position that adhering to the “1992 consensus” is the only basis for cross-strait interaction.

Chang stressed that the tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-KMT government and the Chinese government is interpreted by the KMT as both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledging there is only “one China” with each free to interpret what “China” means.

Beijing has never publicly recognized the second part of the formulation.

The KMT sees the “One-China”in the consensus as referring to the Republic of China, the official name for Taiwan, not the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Chang said.

He also reiterated KMT opposition to the “One country, two systems” model proposed by China.

Meanwhile, DPP representative Lee said the DPP is willing to engage in dialogue on equal footing with China but Beijing has to first recognize the Republic of China (Taiwan) as a sovereign state.

She also accused the KMT of helping Beijing’s “One country, two systems” model, without further explanation.

Lee said since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the DPP took power in May 2016, her administration has launched the New Southbound Policy to enhance the nation’s relations with ASEAN, South Asia countries, Australia and New Zealand.

As a result, the DPP will continue to push the policy and reduce the nation’s dependency on economic ties with China, she said.

Beijing has taken a hardline stance on cross-strait relations since Tsai took office and refused to accept the “1992 consensus.”

“One country, two systems” refers to a constitutional principle formulated by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) during the early 1980s, which suggests there is only one China, but distinct regions such as Hong Kong and Macau can provisionally retain their own economic and administrative systems.

Representatives of other political parties also expressed their party’s position on future cross-strait relations.

Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿), a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University, and a legislator-at-large nominee for the newly-formed Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), said the party, initiated by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), also sees Taiwan as being too overly dependent on China economically.

However, its position is that Taiwan needs to take a more neutral stance and find a balance in its relationship with China and the United States instead of relying too much on either, to better optimize its interests, Jang said.

Chen Yi-Chieh (陳怡潔), a lawmaker from the People First Party (PFP), said that as a sovereign state, freedom and democracy are in the DNA of Taiwan and it will never become like Hong Kong.

As such, the question of whether to accept China’s “One country, two systems” model is a non-issue, she added.

Chen accused the DPP of raising the issue for its own political ends, sowing further division and confrontation across the country.

Taoyuan City Councilor Wang Hao-yu (王浩宇) of the Green Party said the core values of his party are in total opposition to that of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and there is no way the Green Party would accept the CCP’s push for the unification of China and Taiwan.

During the debate, a number of opposition parties also blasted the DPP’s ongoing push to pass an anti-infiltration law to prevent Chinese interference in the nation’s politics.

The bill was initiated by the DPP in late November but the ruling party is hoping it can clear its third reading by the end of the year.

They noted that many Taiwanese businessmen have expressed concern over the bill which they said would hinder cross-strait exchanges and could be used as a political tool to restrict freedom of expression in Taiwan.

The act prohibits political donations; lobbying; and attempts to interfere in local elections at the instruction or with the financial support of anyone affiliated with a hostile force.

The draft bill defines a hostile force as a country or group at war or in a military standoff with Taiwan that seeks to jeopardize Taiwan’s sovereignty by non-peaceful means, referring to China.

In defending the bill, Lee said it is designed to complement existing laws on preventing foreign hostile forces from intervening in Taiwan’s democratic political system and elections.

Sunday’s debate featured representatives from eight of Taiwan’s political parties, namely, DPP, KMT, TPP, PFP, Green Party, New Power Party, Taiwan Statebuilding Party, and the New Party and was jointly organized by Citizen Congress Watch and Formosa TV.

Under Taiwan’s “single-member constituency, two-vote” system, each eligible voter casts two ballots in the legislative elections — one for a candidate representing the voter’s district and the other for a political party to decide how many at-large seats each party can obtain.

A political party must win at least 5 percent of the party vote to be eligible for a share of the at-large seats.