Lawmaker Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣) became the fourth person to announce his bid to run for chairman of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) when he confirmed his candidacy Saturday.
At his service office in Taichung, Chiang urged everyone who cares for the KMT, no matter how old they are, to "shoulder the responsibility we should take on," and he asked for a united effort to change the party for the better.
Chiang, 47, was re-elected to the Legislature in Taiwan's Jan. 11 elections, in which the KMT suffered big defeats in both the presidential and legislative races.
KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) lost by nearly 20 percentage points to incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), and the party won only 38 of the 113 legislative seats while Tsai's party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), garnered 61 seats.
That failure, especially after it had won big in nationwide elections for local offices in November 2018, prompted the 100-year-old KMT to seek internal reforms, including having younger blood take over the party's leadership.
"This is the worst of times for the KMT," Chiang said, but in the face of defeat and its many challenges, the party has demonstrated an ability to criticize itself and reflect on its shortcomings.
It now needs a "consolidated platform" to reflect all the voices calling for party reforms, he said.
Attributing the election loss to the party's stance on matters related to cross-Taiwan Strait links, Chiang said that however the KMT adjusts its policy toward China, it must uphold one position -- that "it is a fact that the Republic of China exists."
The "1992 consensus," which the KMT has used as a basis for interaction with China, was born in a certain era and enabled there to be dialogue and peaceful interaction between Taiwan and China, Chiang said.
With the consensus called into question, however, it should be reviewed and adjusted to reflect the broadest possible consensus within the party and also be aligned with Taiwan's mainstream public opinion, he said.
The "consensus" is seen by the KMT as a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then KMT government and China under which the two sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is only "one China," with each free to interpret what "China" means.
But the DPP has never accepted that such a consensus existed, and rejects its implication that Taiwan is part of "one China."
During her election campaign, Tsai equated the "1992 consensus" to the loss of Taiwan's sovereignty, and Taiwanese voters, especially from the younger generation, agreed, which has forced the KMT to recalibrate its China policy and basic formula for advancing ties with Beijing.
Apart from Chiang, former KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), National Taiwan University Professor Chang Ya-chung (張亞中), and Blue Sky Action Alliance Chairman Wu Chih-chang (武之璋) have also said they will vie for the post.
Chiang's Facebook post (Chiang's Facebook)