Taiwan ex-Premier Frank Hsieh denies plans for 2nd China trip

Hsieh to donate guide dogs for the blind in 2013: Reports

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former Premier Frank Hsieh denied media reports Saturday that he was planning a second trip to China, though he did not exclude the possibility of another visit next year.
Hsieh, who also served as chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party and was its presidential candidate in 2008, traveled to Fujian Province and Beijing last October 4-8 in what was seen as a groundbreaking visit for the pro-Taiwan Independence party.
The Chinese-language China Times reported Saturday that on his next trip, Hsieh would donate dogs for the blind. Last month, the official reason for his trip was an invitation by the International Bartending Association to attend its world championships in Beijing. He wanted to open a new humanitarian channel of exchanges between Taiwan and China, the paper quoted an unnamed associate as saying.
The DPP politician denied there was already a plan to travel again, but he did not exclude a trip sometime next year. Hsieh would not visit China just for the sake of visiting, an aide told reporters.
When he served as mayor of Kaohsiung, Hsieh participated in the shooting of a promotional movie for his city which also included a piece about the visually impaired and their dogs, the aide said. If he traveled to China again, Hsieh would again do so in the capacity of chairman of a private foundation, according to the aide.
Observers said the former DPP leader expressly chose to set himself apart from the route taken by the ruling Kuomintang. Instead of focusing on political contacts, Hsieh was more likely to foster humanitarian exchanges with more common people in China, reports said. Such a tack would elicit more sympathy for Taiwan from the Chinese public than mere economic and political contacts, according to commentators.
Hsieh’s October visit to China touched off a debate within the DPP about its cross-straits policies because he advocated a formula praising the Constitution of the Republic of China. Supporters of Taiwan Independence found his stance hard to accept.
Hsieh has also been considered the leading contender to head the party’s new Chinese Affairs Committee, but since his trip, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang has said that there was no hurry to form the new body.
The former premier was unable to visit China earlier than next March because of the transition now taking place in Beijing, reports said. The Chinese Communist Party will open its 18th Congress on November 8, marking the transfer of power from President Hu Jintao to his current Vice President, Xi Jinping.
While in Beijing last month, Hsieh met with State Council member Dai Bingguo, Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Wang Yi and China’s top cross-straits negotiator, Chen Yunlin. He said he asked Dai to give Taiwan more space for the development of its international relations.
The DPP politician has been arguing that the party must present an acceptable China policy in order to mount a credible bid in the 2016 presidential election. When she left office after losing this January’s presidential poll, former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said the party should establish contacts with China and let Communist leaders know about the side of Taiwan they never saw with KMT officials.
Critics accused Hsieh of giving away too much and not receiving anything in return from China.