Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 15:20 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 15:20 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: China and the KMT


Malcolm Cook

17 April 2008 16:29

Edwin Lowe writes (my response follows): 

In reference to Malcolm Cook's post on 'Cross Strait Calming': the recent meeting of Hu Jintao and Vincent Siew at the Baoao Forum is significant, in that Siew is the Vice-President elect of the ROC. However, this meeting is not the highest meeting of the KMT with the Chinese mainland leadership since 1949, as stated in the Business Week reference Malcolm cites. In 2005, the Honorary Chairman of the KMT, Lien Chan, travelled to the Chinese mainland to meet Hu Jintao in his capacity as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, for the first meeting between the two political parties since the end of WWII.

 This was a significant event that was also largely ignored by the Australian press. This visit, as well as Lien's subsequent visits in other capacities in 2006 and 2007, paved the way for a much more receptive and productive response from the mainland to the recent KMT election victories.
It should be noted however, that at least in the Chinese mainland press, Siew's visit to the Forum is in his capacity as the chairman of the Cross-Strait Common Market Foundation. We should expect to see the technicalities of a party-to-party relationship model continue, as opposed to a government-to-government model that we find reported in the English language press.

Edwin is right about the facts but I disagree with his interpretation. At the time that Lien Chan visited Taiwan as the honorary chairman of the KMT, the KMT was in opposition. Vincent Siew is the vice-president in waiting. Edwin’s point about Len Chan’s visit helping set the ground for the present calming of cross-strait relations is true. But the more important fact is now that the KMT is back in power, meetings between senior KMT (even less senior ones) and CCP leaders can be transferred into government action in Taiwan on issues like the three direct links, something that Lien Chan, as opposition leader, could not do. Vincent Siew, as chairman of the Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation, had been to the Boao Forum before, but there was no calming of cross-strait tensions or moves on the three direct links stemming from these meetings, just as there was none stemming directly from Lien Chan’s historic visit.