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Taiwan's DPP ready for dialogue with Beijing

Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said it is ready to engage in dialogue with Beijing.

TAIPEI: Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said it is ready to engage in dialogue with Beijing.

Its chairwoman Tsai Ing Wen said such communication is necessary to avoid misunderstanding between the two sides.

Her comments come after a visit by China's top official on Taiwan relations.

China's top Taiwan policy maker Zhang Zhijun's landmark visit to Taiwan has marked a new chapter for cross-strait relations.

It has also been widely seen as a first step for Beijing to re-engage the DPP after it lost power in 2008.

Despite protests by anti-China activists, Mr Zhang's meeting with Kaohsiung city mayor Chen Chu from the DPP was warm and friendly.

He said he hopes to have more exchanges with different political parties.

And the DPP seems ready to engage.

"The most important thing for us to do is to develop good dialogues and communication with China, so that we will not have misunderstanding towards each other," said Ms Tsai.

But she said the DPP is not ready to make any major changes in its China policy at this point.

The party's pro-independence platform has been its Achilles' heel in winning the support of most Taiwanese, who still prefer to maintain good relations with the mainland.

Just a week before Mr Zhang's visit, some DPP members had proposed to freeze the clause on Taiwan's independence in its party charter as a way to engage China.

But Ms Tsai said the party remains divided on the issue.

"Any amendment to the charter is a big thing and that requires a lot of consensus building, especially this issue of Taiwan independence...a very fundamental issue for the party. This is something which requires consensus building and I don't think we have a sense of urgency there," said Ms Tsai.

The fact that China is willing to have dialogue with the opposition parties is certainly a good start, but analysts said Beijing's fundamental position remains unchanged.

Professor Alexander Huang, an international affairs expert at Tamkang University, said: "China would not change the basic policy foundation. China will maintain its position against Taiwan independence, but everything else they'll provide more incentives to the future cross-strait exchange."

By building good relations with Beijing, the DPP hopes to get another shot at the presidency in 2016. But until the party gives up its pro-independence platform, observers say there's unlikely to be any breakthrough in China's dealing with the DPP.
 

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