Is Frank Hsieh a Moderate? – David G. Brown

From PacNet Newsletter of Pacific Forum CSIS, via Taiwan Security Research:

Frank Hsieh Chang-ting has been nominated by the Democratic Progressive Party () as their presidential candidate. Many in Taipei now believe he has a good chance of winning the election, assuming he does not withdraw as he has said he would if indicted on the corruption allegations now being investigated. If elected, the prospects for improved cross-Strait and U.S.- will hinge on whether he pursues moderate policies.

Hsieh is widely perceived to be a moderate, by which is usually meant that he takes a pragmatic rather than ideological approach. One person who worked with him, in the 1990s said he was then open to options for Taiwan’s future other than formal independence. He has for years been linked to the idea of a “constitutional one China” under which the fact that Taiwan’s current constitution is based on the concept of “one China” is seen as a basis for addressing cross-Strait relations. As mayor of Kaohsiung, Hsieh proposed in 2000 to travel to Xiamen to discuss a possible sister city arrangement. Chen Shui-bian’s administration denied Hsieh permission to make this trip. When appointed premier in January 2005, Hsieh announced that “conciliation and cooperation” would be the hallmarks of his approach both domestically and in cross-Strait relations. When talks on Chinese tourism to Taiwan began, Hsieh voiced the initial goal of 1,000 tourists a day. When President Chen replaced Hsieh in December 2005, Hsieh voiced restrained but clear criticism of Chen’s restrictions on his handling of cross-Strait relations. When running for Taipei mayor in 2006, Hsieh explicitly discouraged Chen from campaigning for him. [Full Text]

David G. Brown is an adjunct professor of China Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).


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