The DPP's "China policy" conference

Reiterates Taiwan's independence

Taipei, 16 February 1998

From 13th through 15th February 1998, Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held a debate to hammer out its policy on relations between Taiwan and China. The meeting at the Law School of National Taiwan University was attended by 36 party members, 12 each from Party Headquarters, the Legislative Yuan and the National Assembly.

The party conference represent the first major debate on its China policy since the DPP trounced the ruling Kuomintang in City Mayor and County Magistrate elections in November 1997.

The conference decided on a two-pronged approach, which was summarized as "Strengthen Foundation and Move Westbound".

"Strengthen Foundation" represented the primary emphasis on building a strong Taiwan and enhancing Taiwan's status as an independent nation, opposing any concessions to China on the issue of sovereignty of Taiwan.

At the same time, it decided that it was not against talks with China ("Move Westbound"), provided this did not compromise the sovereignty of the island.

The conference agreed to a policy of gaining greater recognition abroad, and of keeping China at arms' length by limiting trade and investment, thus rejecting DPP Chairman Hsu hsin-liang's view of increased economic ties with China through direct trade, transportation and communications.

Relations with China and Taiwan's national identity are the cause of major contention in Taiwan. The ruling Kuomintang has traditionally emphasized the Chinese identity of the people on the island, although only some 15 percent came to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek after his defeat in China in the late 1940s.

However, recent opinion surveys show a trend towards the Taiwanese identity of the majority 85 percent on the island, and a strong increase in support for Taiwan as an free, democratic and independent nation, instead of perpetuation of the fiction that Taiwan is a "province" of China.

During a major national policy conference in December 1996, the ruling Kuomintang and the opposition DPP agreed to disband the provincial administrative and legislative structure, a left-over from the days the Kuomintang still claimed sovereignty over China.

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