Taipei, The Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan’s main opposition party, announced on Monday that it will not send an official delegation to an annual cross-Taiwan Strait forum this year due to inappropriate comments by a Chinese state-owned broadcaster.
KMT members, however, are free to attend the 12th Straits Forum that opens on Sept. 19 in Xiamen, China, in private capacities, Wang Yu-min (王育敏), KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman, said at a press conference.
KMT is considered by many as a “China-friendly” political party in Taiwan compared with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is pro-Taiwan independence and highly vocal in its antipathy toward Beijing.
“The overall atmosphere is now unfit for cross-strait dialogue. The KMT hereby announces that it will not participate in the forum as a political party,” Wang said, reading a prepared statement.
“The cross-strait situation is complicated. Any inappropriate comments or actions can seriously harm the hard-earned goodwill and mutual trust across the Taiwan Strait,” Wang said.
She was responding to a demeaning comment by the China Central Television (CCTV), a mouthpiece of the Chinese government.
On Sept. 10, two days after the KMT announced that former Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, CCTV ran a headline that read “With the strait on the brink of war, this man is coming to the mainland to plead for peace.”
The comment implied that the former legislative speaker and the KMT were essentially heading to China to show subservience to Beijing in cross-strait affairs, and it stirred controversy and anger in Taiwan.
KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) demanded an apology from the parties involved, but Tso Chen-dong (左正東), director of the KMT’s Mainland Affairs Department, said at the same press conference that no official apology has been received from the Chinese broadcaster.
Still, the party will not oppose members from attending the forum in a private capacity, though Wang (Yu-min) said she did not know who might do so.
She said the KMT respected its members’ own decisions as many Taiwanese people across different sectors and political parties have attended the forum, either representing their organizations or in a personal capacity.
Lin Rong-te (林榮德), a former interim Kuomintang (KMT) chairman, said after the KMT announcement that he will still attend the forum as a private citizen.
Responding to Lin’s move, DPP spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) accused the KMT of still wanting to attend the forum and was simply circumventing its official decision to do so.
The Straits Forum, initiated by Beijing and first held in 2009, is a platform for cultural cooperation and economic exchanges between China and Taiwan, co-sponsored by numerous organizations across the Taiwan Strait.
The KMT has seen the forum as a symbol of peace between Taiwan and China and had sent delegations to the forum every year.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel