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Taiwan Party Considers Opening Office in China


Taiwan's Nationalist Party, the Kuomintang (KMT), says it is considering opening an office in mainland China for the first time in more than 50 years. Beijing is keeping quiet about the move.

A spokesman for the Nationalists, Taiwan's powerful political opposition, says his KMT party is preparing to set up an office in China to help Taiwanese business people here. But in an interview with VOA Tuesday, Justin Chou downplayed the significance of the move, saying the office would have nothing to do with politics, and would deal purely with concerns of Taiwanese investors. "KMT is thinking about opening a so-called service institution to offer this service for these Taiwanese businessmen there," Mr. Chou said.

Neither the Chinese Foreign Ministry nor Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office have confirmed the news.

But a state-run newspaper in Guangdong Province Sunday quoted Chinese Vice-Premier Qian Qichen as saying that Beijing would allow Taiwan's Nationalist Party to open an office to help protect Taiwan's business interests.

The office would be the first on the mainland since the Nationalists fled to Taiwan after losing a civil war to Chinese Communists in 1949.

Mr. Chou says the KMT wants to prepare for the increase in cross-Strait business ties, with both China and Taiwan on the verge of entry into the World Trade Organization. "So KMT, as the biggest opposition party in Taiwan, I think it is our obligation to have more service institutions to offer service to these business persons in order to have plenty of preparation time before we get into the WTO," Mr. Chou said.

Since Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian assumed office last year, Beijing has welcomed visits by opposition Nationalist officials, while snubbing Mr. Chen's party, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. Mr. Chen as president has backed away from some of his party's extreme views, but has yet to give into Beijing's demand that Taiwan accept that is a part of China.