Taiwan politician heads home

Updated: 2012-10-09 00:14

By ZHAO YINAN (China Daily)

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A senior member of Taiwan's opposition party Frank Hsieh left Beijing on Monday after concluding a high-profile visit to the mainland, which experts expect to prompt more non-governmental exchanges between the mainland and the Democratic Progressive Party.

Hsieh said his visit, which was meant to be a private trip to attend an international cocktail contest in Beijing, was "surprising" for having attracted so much attention, taihainet.com, a website affiliated to the Straits Herald based in Xiamen, Fujian province, reported.

Taiwan politician heads home

Frank Hsieh, a senior member of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party, answers questions from media as he leaves his hotel in Beijing before returning to Taiwan on Monday. Zhang Hao / China News Service

According to the report, Hsieh said he was not forced to take a stand or given a hard time during his trip, as some in Taiwan have alleged. He also said he will evaluate his trip and share thoughts on the experience in Taiwan.

Hsieh, the island's former "premier" and the DPP's 2008 leadership candidate, is the highest-level DPP politician ever to visit the mainland.

Experts said the five-day trip is likely to lead to more members of the DPP visiting the mainland and may even affect the party's mainland policy.

Chen Xiancai, an expert from Xiamen University's Taiwan Research Institute who took part in the institute's meeting with Hsieh in Fujian on Friday, said Hsieh retains significant influence and connections in the DPP and his attitude toward the mainland will influence many both inside and outside the party.

Chen said more exchanges could lead to better understanding and may result in an adjustment of the DPP's mainland policy. The party was accused of losing a recent leadership election due to its lack of a clear strategy on engaging with Beijing.

During the trip, Hsieh met several high-level mainland officials "through friendly introductions", including State Councilor Dai Bingguo, who is a member of the Communist Party of China's Central Taiwan Affairs Leading Group, he said.

Hsieh also held talks with the mainland's top official on Taiwan affairs Wang Yi and the top cross-Straits negotiator Chen Yunlin.

Li Jiaquan, a senior member of the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the mainland's high-level reception could help dispel concerns held by many from Taiwan, especially within the DPP, about engaging with Beijing.

Hsieh's trip was intended to test the water and assess reactions on the mainland and among DPP members, he added.

Li predicted the DPP, as an opposition party, will engage in more cultural and educational exchanges rather than economic and political ones.

Hsieh's visit coincided with a personnel reshuffle and policy changes in Taiwan. Observers believe the DPP may be looking for a new mainland policy to give it an edge in the island's 2016 leadership elections.

Li said he hoped Hsieh would lead the DPP to adopt a more flexible mainland policy, which is something the Taiwan politician suggested he would do during his trip.

The Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation has elected a new head, Lin Join-sane, as the top negotiator to engage in talks regarding cross-Straits exchanges with its mainland counterpart.

Re-elected Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang has also appointed his close ally Wang Yu-chi as the new chief of the island's administration that deals with mainland affairs.