KMT-Beijing ties sour over CCTV commentary

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 15 Sep 2020

Taiwan's China-friendly opposition party said yesterday it would not send a delegation for talks on the mainland after "inappropriate comments" by Beijing's state media.

The snub highlights growing friction between China and the Kuomintang party, which favors warmer ties with Beijing but is struggling to persuade an increasingly skeptical public that is growing weary of its cross-strait neighbor.

China has refused to talk to Taiwan's ruling party since 2016, but KMT politicians maintain ties and travel each year to the mainland for a forum in the coastal city of Xiamen.

However, they have been angered by a recent current affairs program on China's state-run CCTV that described their visit as "suing for peace."

The triumphant tone of the report piled pressure on the KMT to cancel the visit at a time when many voters feel the party is overly deferential to Beijing.

"If [China] wants to maintain goodwill and peaceful interactions between both sides, it should not use inappropriate comments like this," KMT's Culture and Communications chairman Wang Yu-min said.

"Mutual trust between both sides are at a very fragile state now," he added.

This year will be the first time in 12 years the KMT will not attend the forum and is a blow for Beijing's attempts to gain political allies on the self-ruled island.

Beijing has ramped up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who refuses to acknowledge that the island is part of "one China."

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party had denounced the Xiamen forum and criticized Beijing for only being willing to talk to the opposition.

Beijing has repeatedly rebuffed Tsai's talk offers, but China's pressure has done little to dent her popularity. Earlier this year she won a second term with a landslide.

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