News / Asia

    Taiwanese Pro-Independence Politician Visits China

    Former premier Frank Hsieh of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party speaks during  a press conference in Taipei, October 1, 2012.
    Former premier Frank Hsieh of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party speaks during a press conference in Taipei, October 1, 2012.
    VOA News
    Frank Hsieh, the former chairman of Taiwan's pro-independence party, is touring China for a visit that he says is aimed at building mutual trust.

    Hsieh, the most-senior official from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to tour China, is attempting to facilitate his party's relation with the mainland after it lost elections against the incumbent pro-Beijing candidate.

    "Hopefully, footprints I make today will become a trail for future travelers," Hsieh said before leaving Taiwan, according to local media.

    Hsieh and other DPP politicians, are seeking distance from more extreme pro-independence factions, after Taiwan voters confirmed their support for Ma Ying-jeou, champion of a more conciliatory stance with the mainland.

    Although Hsieh said his visit is "in a private capacity" and that he will not meet with Chinese officials, many consider this an attempt to soften his party's China policy.

    "The Democratic Progressive Party faces a very big challenge," says Jia Qingguo, a political science professor at Beijing University.

    "If the cross-strait relation continues to develop like it has been, people in Taiwan will benefit from it, thus they will not support the pro-independence stance anymore," Jia says. "This is what Hsieh has in mind as he comes to China."

    Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has pursued a policy of progressive economic engagement with the overt goal of reunification always in sight.

    Hu Jintao, whose term as China's president and Communist Party chief is likely to end next month when the Party Congress will appoint new leaders, has subscribed to this approach.

    Under his tenure, and with the help of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan and the mainland have negotiated unprecedented trade deals that reduced tariff barriers and are thought to have greatly benefited the Taiwanese side.

    Huang Jing, director of the Center on Asia and Globalization at the Singapore-based Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, says the mainland, where business with Taiwan accounts for only four percentage points of China's entire international trade, has the upper hand in its negotiations with Taiwan.

    "At least half of Taiwan's international trade is done with China," Huang says. "The trade with China has been so substantial in Taiwan's economy that they cannot afford to let this go."

    Ever since 1949, when the nationalists retreated to Taiwan, Mao Zedong and the top Communist leaders that succeeded him have maintained a tough re-unification stance, which Huang believes, Hu Jintao revised.

    "If you cannot achieve re-unification, at least you should close the door on Taiwan's independence," he says. "That is what Hu Jintao's policy is all about."

    Both Jia Qingguo and Huang Jing believe that in dealing with Taiwan, exiting leader Hu Jintao has crafted a successful policy model, which will be followed by China's next collective of rulers.

    "We have an old saying: if unbroken, why fix it?" Huang says. He adds that by increasing the mainland's economic clout over Taiwan the new leadership might further undermine the prospects of the island's independence, thus laying grounds for a peaceful re-unification down the road.

    Huang acknowledges that there could be factors of instability.

    Taiwan's alliance with the United States is both a military assurance and a potential hazard, should territorial disputes with Japan escalate to military conflict. China's economic slow down might negatively impact Taiwan, and growing Chinese nationalism in the mainland might force Chinese leaders to act more forcibly across the strait.

    That is why, Huang says, maintaining the status quo is a priority for both governments.

    "Any premature attempt from China's side to seek unification, or any premature attempt from Taiwan's side to reach independence is counterproductive and dangerous not just for China and Taiwan but for the whole regional peace," Huang says.

    Frank Hsieh's first stop is in the Southeastern province of Fujian, where he will visit the coastal city of Xiamen, and his ancestral hometown. In Beijing, he will tour the Olympic stadium, attend an international cocktail contest, and meet with various academics from different research centers on Taiwanese studies.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora