Longest-serving Taiwanese top legislator on personal ‘pilgrimage’ to mainland China

Wang’s office said the trip was purely for “personal religious purposes” and had nothing to do with politics.

Wang was joined at the temple on Sunday morning by Jiangsu’s Taiwan affairs chief Lian Yueqin.

Taiwanese daily China Times reported on Sunday that Wang might pay a courtesy visit to the Taiwan Affairs Office, the mainland body overseeing cross-strait matters, and meet its director, Song Tao.

Quoting unnamed sources, the report said that even if the visit did take place, Wang’s meeting with Song might not touch on “any in-depth issues”.

Wang met Song’s predecessor, Liu Jieyi, during a previous trip to the mainland in May 2019. The visit to his ancestral village in Zhangzhou, in Taiwan-facing Fujian province, came two months after Wang declared his intention to become KMT’s candidate for the 2020 presidential election. He later decided not to run.

During his meeting with Liu, Wang said independence for Taiwan was a “false proposition” that would never work, and the “1992 consensus” laid the foundation for cross-strait peace.

Wang Jin-pyng (4th left) with delegates from the Kunshan Taiwan Business Association, Taiwan Enterprises Federation and other organisations at the temple to goddess Mazu. Photo: CNA

The 1992 consensus is an unofficial agreement that there is only one China but the two sides may disagree about what that means. Reached when the KMT was in power, the consensus was often credited as the basis for semi-official cross-strait exchanges which began in the early 1990s. It is also a major precondition set by Beijing to engage in cross-strait dialogue.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a part of China to be reunited by force if necessary. Most countries, including the United States, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state. But Washington opposes any attempt to take the self-governed island by force, and is legally bound to help Taiwan defend itself.

Wang was the head of Taipei’s Legislative Yuan from 1999 to 2016, the longest term served by anybody in the role. He is expected to return to Taiwan on Thursday.

As the cross-strait political and social divide widens, Beijing has tried to win over Taiwanese people by highlighting shared cultural and ancestral roots.

Wang’s trip comes two months after a high-profile visit to mainland China by former Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou, also of the KMT, his second such trip in as many years.

Ma and his delegation attended a ceremony in northwestern Shaanxi province to pay homage to Huangdi, or the Yellow Emperor, a legendary common ancestor of the Chinese people.

President Xi Jinping highlighted the inevitability of the cross-strait “family reunion” as he welcomed Ma to historic talks in Beijing on April 10.

But Beijing has also used displays of military might to warn new Taiwanese leader William Lai Ching-te and his pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party against challenging its sovereignty.

On Friday, just a month after Lai’s inauguration, Beijing’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and the ministries of public security, state security, and justice, released a judicial guideline warning that “Taiwan independence” separatists could face the death penalty in extreme secession cases.

Beijing has branded Lai as an “obstinate separatist” whose leadership could lead to war.

Lai took office on May 20, declaring that Taiwan and the mainland “are not subordinate to each other” in an inaugural speech slammed by Beijing as bearing “dangerous signals”.


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