Transcend issues, says DPP leader

Updated: 2012-10-06 08:28

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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Senior Taiwan politician meets with experts on his first mainland tour

Frank Hsieh, the most senior member of Taiwan's pro-independence opposition party ever to visit the mainland, called on Friday for the two sides to tolerate their differences and go beyond them.

He made the remarks after talks with experts from the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University in Fujian province. He is expected to meet with more experts in Beijing on Saturday.

Hsieh's exchanges with mainland think tanks are expected to help his Democratic Progressive Party adjust its mainland policy, analysts said.

Friday's closed-door meeting with Xiamen University experts, which lasted about an hour, provides a base for future communication with the institute, Hsieh, the island's former "premier", said after the meeting.

He said cross-Straits communication has resulted in periodical accomplishments in recent years, yet future achievements require both sides to carefully handle and transcend their differences, instead of putting them aside.

Hsieh's trip, which has been hailed as an "icebreaker", comes after the incumbent Taiwan leader, Ma Ying-jeou, of the ruling Kuomintang, appointed Wang Yu-chi as the new head of the administration that deals with mainland affairs.

Leading DPP members are also debating whether their party needs to change its mainland policy after voters re-elected Ma in January.

Wang has pledged to fundamentally revise the 20-year-old guideline on cross-Straits affairs, a move expected to consolidate the achievements of recent years.

A major revision will include the removal of unnecessary controls and better protection of mainlanders' rights in Taiwan.

Analysts said Hsieh's visit could bring changes to the DPP's mainland policy in the long run.

Cross-Straits tensions soared between 2000 and 2008, when the DPP ruled Taiwan. The situation has eased since Ma took office four years ago.

Thomas Lee, from the island's People First Party, said the trip could help further ease tension, as well as allow political parties in Taiwan to avoid meaningless disputes over cross-Straits affairs and focus more on the island's economic difficulties.

Hsieh's five-day trip also took him to Fujian's Dongshan county, where his family is originally from. Hsieh and his wife held a ceremony to pay respects to his ancestors in an ancestral hall on Thursday.

Afterward, Hsieh called for direct dialogue on both sides of the Straits to "build a channel for mutual trust". Although there are divided opinions, he said, they should not become new misunderstandings.

The trip will also see Hsieh travel to Beijing, where he is expected to meet experts from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the mainland's most renowned think tank, and to attend an international cocktail contest as a guest of the International Bartenders' Association.