Kuomintang Senior Leader to Visit China Amid Continued Tensions

On Monday, Taiwan’s opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), stated that their deputy chairman, Andrew Hsia, will be visiting China this week despite the ongoing tensions between the two states. Hsia will be meeting with the newly appointed leader of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Song Tao, to discuss cross-strait issues and interact with personnel. The KMT delegation will also exchange dialogue with Taiwanese people who live on the mainland. Over the past three years, China has increased pressure on Taiwan to acknowledge Chinese sovereignty as Taiwan’s government has been rejecting China’s territorial claims. This meeting could potentially be a big step in easing tensions between the sides.

The KMT stated that Hsia and his delegation will “conduct exchanges and dialogue on the basis of equality and dignity” and “reflect Taiwan’s latest public concerns about the security of the Taiwan Strait and expectations for regional peace and stability.” The KMT also said that the visit would be “strictly apolitical,” and they would not reach any agreements on behalf of the island’s government. In addition to meeting with Song, a KMT source stated that Hsia also hoped to meet with Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning, as he is expected to take over as head of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and has a strong background in Taiwan policy.

This meeting is an opportunity for the delegation to meet with Taiwanese people on the mainland and learn about their perspective and needs. The party also stated that they needed to ease the cross-strain tensions while also promoting the Taiwanese people’s interests so the two sides could potentially begin a new relationship. The Mainland Affairs Council stated that in regard to this trip, Taiwanese politicians who visit China should “reflect” the Taiwan people’s desires to maintain stability and democracy not enter into negotiations.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman with the Taiwan Affairs Office, stated that Beijing has graciously welcomed Hsia’s visit to promote the welfare of each side “under the political basis of the one-China principle and opposition to Taiwan independence”.

This meeting sites a major step in China-Taiwan relations. While the visit was deemed not political and agreements will not be made, resolving these tensions might have a bigger impact than expected. The opportunity for Hsia to meet with the Taiwanese people on the mainland is also import, as it will strengthen their relations.

According to the South China Morning Post, the COVID-19 pandemic caused more tension on cross-strait relations and caused mainland-based Taiwanese students, business leaders and residents to pressure regarding the protection of their rights and interests. However, the KMT stated that with both sides loosening restrictions, it was important that they address their issues including the mainland’s ban on farm products, and Taiwan’s policy on individual tourists from the mainland visiting the island. According to U.S. News, the last time Hsia visited China was August, which was condemned by Taiwan’s government. Following this, former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, angered Beijing and created further tensions.

It is imperative that both sides use this visit as an opportunity to address these tensions and issues that have been building up over the past few years. If the visit goes well, there is a chance that the relations between both sides will start to look more positive. The potential to break the status quo must not be overlooked, and the opportunity must not be passed up. Resolving these issues is a crucial step in a long road to peace.