TAIPEI (REUTERS) – A senior member of Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), has told a top Chinese official of Taiwanese people’s concerns about Beijing’s war games near the island, in what the party described as “frank” talks.
China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has been holding massed military drills near the island to express its anger at a visit to Taipei this month by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
KMT Deputy Chairman Andrew Hsia arrived in China for what his party said was a pre-planned visit to the Taiwanese business community and on Wednesday (Aug 24) night met Mr Zhang Zhijun, head of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, a quasi-official body that handles ties with Taiwan.
Taiwan’s government has criticised Mr Hsia for his timing, and some senior KMT officials have expressed reservations about the trip.
“Deputy Chairman Hsia said he wanted to reflect Taiwan’s public opinion and must not mince his words,” the KMT said in a statement after the meeting in the eastern Chinese city of Kunshan.
“The first priority was to convey the dissatisfaction and worries of the Taiwanese people about the mainland military’s continuous exercises in the waters around Taiwan,” it added.
The KMT described the meeting, over dinner, as being an honest exchange of opinions on both sides.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said Zhang, who previously led the Taiwan Affairs Office, described the current situation as one of “tension and turmoil”.
“The relevant countermeasures we have taken are a just move to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, curb and combat ‘Taiwan independence’ splitism and foreign interference,” Xinhua reported.
Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the island’s people can decide their future.
The KMT traditionally favours close relations with China, though it has condemned Beijing’s war games.
The KMT ruled China before retreating with its defeated Republic of China government to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong’s Communist forces, which set up the People’s Republic of China.