TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An American scholar has predicted that the Kuomintang (KMT) will take a pragmatic line after the party elected former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) as their chairperson on Saturday (Sept. 25).
Former AIT Director Douglas Paal said that Chu has a few priorities, including uniting the party, achieving an appropriate balance in relations with China, and improving the image of the KMT in U.S. policy circles, according to a UDN report.
Paal described Chu as practical, steady, and popular, adding that he wishes that Beijing respects him and his policy platform.
The fact that Xi Jinping (習近平) sent a telegram to congratulate Chu on his win is a good sign for him, showing Beijing is willing to cooperate with the party on cross-strait relations, according to Kharis Templeman, a researcher at Stanford University's Hoover Institute.
Yet Xi’s insistence on shoring up the so-called 1992 consensus and his lack of emphasis on “pursuing unity while respecting differences” (求同尊異) — a phrase often used to evoke Chu’s cross-strait policy — showed the limits of Xi’s support.
The CCP will not be able to help Chu politically, nor will they compromise on their own cross-strait policy, he added.
Templeman suggested the KMT consider opening an office in the U.S. if they are serious about improving their image among lawmakers in the country. It is also necessary to deepen exchanges with think tankers and academicians and to demonstrate that the party takes seriously American concerns regarding China, he said.
A proportion of the U.S. population perceives the KMT as weak and unwilling to defend Taiwan against a potential Chinese invasion, he said. Whether that is true, Templeman added, Chu must work hard if he hopes to change these perceptions of his party in the U.S.