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Beijing ‘concerned’ by KMT official saying party is mislabelled as ‘pro-China’

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Beijing says it is “concerned” about comments made by a senior official in Taiwan’s mainland-friendly opposition Kuomintang, who said it was wrong to call it the “unification party”.

Chen Binhua, a spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, on Wednesday said mainland Chinese had also “expressed their dissatisfaction with such remarks, which undermine mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and hurt the feelings of compatriots on both sides”.

The remarks were made in late September, when KMT vice-chairman Andrew Hsia Li-yan told Taiwanese reporters that his party had been mislabelled by some Western media outlets as the “pro-China party” or “unification party”.

“We have always stressed that the KMT is a party that understands the importance of cross-strait relations,” Hsia said. “And we have the experience, ability, willingness and the political foundation to deal with cross-strait relations.”

Hsia has travelled to mainland China three times this year seeking more dialogue with officials.

Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Chen Binhua said mainland Chinese had also “expressed their dissatisfaction” with the remarks. Photo: Xinhua

On Wednesday, Chen from the Taiwan Affairs Office urged political parties on the island, including the KMT, to “safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation” and to push cross-strait relations “back onto the right track of peaceful development”.

Hsia’s comments came as Taiwan’s presidential election looms in January, the outcome of which will have an impact on the relationship between not just Beijing and Taipei, but also Washington. The US maintains unofficial ties with self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing regards as part of its territory.

The KMT vice-chairman’s remarks were viewed as a bid to assuage public concern that the party will lean too close to Beijing if elected.

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William Lai Ching-te, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential candidate, is ahead in the polls. Beijing has called Lai a separatist “troublemaker” and lambasted him and the DPP, which refuses to accept the 1992 consensus that there is “one China” – an agreement Beijing sees as the basis of cross-strait ties.

KMT presidential nominee Hou Yu-ih has said he supports a version of the 1992 consensus that conforms with Taiwan’s constitution, but he does not agree with it being interpreted as a “one country, two systems” framework.

Hsia travelled to mainland China in February, meeting Wang Huning, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, and Song Tao, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office.

He also made trips to the mainland in June and August, with a focus on political exchange and dialogue, as well as economic and trade cooperation.

Andrew Hsia (left) meets Wang Huning, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, in Beijing in February. Photo: CCTV

After saying the KMT should not be characterised as “pro-China”, Hsia told Taiwan’s CTiTV News on October 3 that his comments were taken out of context and that the party line is to maintain the cross-strait status quo.

He said interaction between the KMT and the mainland would move forward in a way that was “orderly, stable, prosperous and peaceful”.

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