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Cross-strait policy not salient issue in elections: DPP official

ROC Central News Agency

2016/01/20 18:21:24

Washington, Jan. 20 (CNA) Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), secretary-general of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Tuesday in Washington that viewing Taiwan's Jan. 16 general elections from the perspective of independence versus unification might be outdated.

Occasional observers may look at the elections through the independence versus unification prism, with the DPP advocating independence and the Kuomintang unification.

This view might have had some degree of truth in the early years of democratization; however, it is overly simplistic and misleading to still view the elections and their implications through this outdated perspective as the voters in Taiwan no longer make their choice based on such simple terms, Wu said.

Wu made the statement while delivering a speech during a forum on assessing the outcomes and implications of Taiwan's January 2016 elections, at the invitation of two U.S. think tanks -- the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), chairwoman of the DPP won the presidency and the DPP also scored an unprecedented legislative majority in the elections.

According to Wu, the DPP conducts regular surveys to understand the issues the public considers important. These surveys show that the public cares less about highly political issues, such as cross-strait relations and sovereignty, than about the issues that concern them personally, such as the economic situation and food safety, Wu said.

Factors contributing to the election results, other than the KMT's own failure, include young voters' discontent with the government and the sharp contrast between the performance of the local administrations controlled by the DPP and the KMT, according to Wu.

The DPP's active pursuit of balanced positions on potentially young voters and the DPP's policy platforms that addressed public concerns might also have been factors contributing to the election outcome, Wu added.

It should be noted that the cross-strait relations question was not a salient issue in the campaign and therefore was not the issue defining the election outcome.

Throughout the campaign, neither the presidential candidate herself nor the DPP campaign team targeted China in any campaign rhetoric or slogans, Wu stresses.

China sees Taiwan as a province to be unified by force if necessary.

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had said during a speech in Washington last year and the televised presidential debates and policy presentation forums held in Taiwan prior to the election that the DPP has never denied the historical existence of the cross- strait dialogues that took place in 1992, according to Wu.

Tsai indeed acknowledges the shared desire of the two sides at that time to advance cross-strait relations by fostering mutual understanding, Wu said.

Tsai also advocates a return to the original spirit of 'setting aside differences to seek common ground' that formed the basis of the 1992 cross-strait meetings, Wu said while speaking on the subject, Wu added.

The consensus was a tacit agreement reached between Taiwan and China in 1992 that there is only one China, with each side free to interpret what that means.

'Going forward, we will do our utmost to find a mutually acceptable mode of interaction between Taiwan and the mainland, one that avoids confrontation and prevents surprises,' said Wu.

'We will, in the new session of the legislature, put forward the Cross-Strait Agreement Oversight Legislation as a priority to highlight our interest in peaceful and stable relations with China,' Wu added.

It was Wu's first speech in Washington after the elections, attracting great attention during the forum.

Richard Bush, a former American Institute in Taiwan chairman and current director of the Brookings Institution's Center for East Asia Policy Studies, delivered opening remarks at the forum hosted by Bonnie Glaser, senior advisor for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Wu is now on a visit to U.S. He will meet with American officials, Congress members and think tank scholars in Washington before returning to Taiwan on Jan. 22.

(By Tony Liao and Evelyn Kao)
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