Senior Taiwanese opposition party leader to visit Beijing this week

Beijing, Feb 6 (EFE).- A senior leader of the Taiwanese opposition party will be on a 10-day visit to China beginning Wednesday amid a severe cross-strait military crisis in the region.

Andrew Hsia, the vice chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), will meet the director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Chinese government, Song Tao, during his Feb.8 to 17 visit, the party said on Monday.

The KMT said Hsia and Song would hold talks on the basis of “equality and dignity.”

The exchange would “reflect on Taiwan’s latest public concerns about the security of the Taiwan Strait and regional peace and stability expectation,” the KMT said.

Hsia is a former Taiwanese diplomat and ex-head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council.

The party denies it is pro-Beijing but has always promoted closer ties with China.

The KMT defends the importance of keeping the lines of communication open with China to deal with the impasse.

The party said it had always adhered to “defending (and) safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy, and maintaining regional peace.”

“In the face of the current stalemate in cross-strait relations and governance difficulties, we cannot sit idly by,” the KMT said.

“(Hsia’s) trip is mainly to continue the spirit of the last visit (in August), and the purpose is to reflect and communicate the current urgent issues concerning the livelihood and well-being of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait through face-to-face exchanges and dialogue.”

In November last year, the KMT swept the island’s local elections.

However, analysts said unlike in the presidential elections, in which the situation in the Taiwan Strait is an important factor, the Taiwanese showed their discontent with the government of the Democratic Progressive Party.

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the Chinese government confirmed the visit, noting that Beijing was “willing to strengthen exchanges with the KMT on the common political basis of adhering to the ‘1992 Consensus’ and opposing the Taiwanese independence.”

China considers the self-ruled island part of its territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary.

Beijing says the island is a breakaway Chinese province since the Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the communists.

Taiwan is one of the main sources of conflict between China and the US, mainly because Washington is Taipei’s key arms supplier and could be its greatest military ally in the event of a war with China. EFE


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