A senior official from Taiwan’s largest opposition party is visiting China as it wraps up large-scale military exercises near Taiwan. The visit is criticized by Taiwan’s ruling party.
A group led by Andrew Hsia, vice president of the Kuomintang, or KMT, flew to China on Wednesday for a trip scheduled until August 27. The group plans to visit Fujian and Guangdong provinces, as well as Shanghai, to interview Taiwanese businessmen. and the students who live there.
Hsia told reporters when he left that the trip had been organized since June and that the Chinese military exercises had been unexpected. He stressed the importance of maintaining communication and moving forward with courage, despite the current difficulties.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council expressed regret for the visit, saying the KMT had rejected its request to cancel. The council raised concerns that the KMT’s actions could aid Beijing’s plan to force Taiwan into unification through military threats.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party condemned the KMT for the trip. He said the timing is wrong and it creates confusion that could harm Taiwan’s internal unity and the international community’s understanding.
Observers say the KMT may be trying to strike a balance in its relationship with the United States and China. Party leader Eric Chu visited the United States in June to strengthen ties with Washington.
It is uncertain whether Hsia will meet with Chinese government officials on his trip.