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Hung's visit bridges gap across Taiwan Straits

Updated: 2016-11-02 07:34
(China Daily)

Hung's visit bridges gap across Taiwan Straits

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, meets with Taiwan's Kuomintang party leader Hung Hsiu-chu in Beijing on Tuesday. WU ZHIYI / CHINA DAILY

Hung Hsiu-chu, the leader of the opposition Kuomintang in Taiwan, has daunting pressures on her back while visiting the mainland.

Back home, her party, while struggling to survive merciless attacks by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, remains divided, not only over its strategy for survival, but even over her ongoing trip.

The KMT caucus in the Taiwan legislature has openly expressed doubts about the intentions behind her trip. Some KMT members voiced worries she would mention "reunification" to woo Beijing and consolidate her standing in the upcoming KMT leadership election in 2017.

The ruling DPP, too, is watching Hung vigilantly. The DPP caucus in the local legislature issued a warning, advising her not to step over "legal redlines", and cautioning her not to sign any agreement or consensus with the mainland.

Such pressure, coupled with the KMT's present role as the largest opposition party on the island, means Hung's trip, which she described as a "journey for peace", will not result in substantive political agreements, something the KMT under her predecessor successfully secured with the mainland while in power.

But the absence of the agreements feared by her opponents and rivals in no way compromises the significance of Hung's trip, which is a reassuring sign that communication and exchanges may at least be sustained at some level.

With official, even semi-official channels of communication severed since the DPP came to power, the prospect of ending the estrangement between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits is slight. Both Hung and her host, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, know that, but they obviously took rapprochement as a longer-term goal worth pursuing during their Tuesday meeting.

Even with no papers signed, Xi and Hung exchanged vows to safeguard the "one-China" principle, and oppose any secessionist forces and actions on the island. And Xi issued the inspiring message that the mainland would not let the deteriorating official ties take a toll on innocent compatriots in Taiwan.

Despite its repeated claims of willingness to preserve the previous status quo, the Tsai Ing-wen administration in Taiwan has appeared unwilling to try and reverse the downward spiral in cross-Straits official exchanges.

Hung's visit is thus a success already, since she said her mission was to preserve the semi-official channels of cross-Straits communication. It has once again demonstrated the KMT's essential function as a bridge between the two sides of the Straits.

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