Hsieh Chang-ting speaks to the media during his visit to the 798 Art Zone in Beijing on Saturday. Photo: IC
Hsieh Chang-ting, a former chairman of the Taiwan-based Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), concludes on Monday his five-day visit to the Chinese mainland, which experts said could be a big step toward narrowing the chasm between his party and the mainland.
Hsieh, who is now the chairman of the Taiwan Reform Foundation, made a private visit to his ancestral home in Fujian Province on Thursday before flying to Beijing, where he met State Councilor Dai Bingguo Sunday.
The two sides exchanged opinions on issues of common concern.
Hsieh also met with Wang Yi, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.
The office's spokesperson Yang Yi said Wang briefed Hsieh on recent cross-Straits developments.
Yang said both men regarded the meeting as "beneficial."
Hsieh, who was visiting the mainland as a private citizen, said it is natural that both sides have different views on cross-Straits relations, but his visit could help build mutual understanding, the China Review News reported.
Hsieh, in talk with a group of mainland experts on Taiwan affairs with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Saturday, said economic development has been promoted on both sides by seeking common ground and shelving differences.
Hsieh said both sides also believe there is a bottleneck of exchanges that can be resolved by time and sincerity, chinanews.com reported Saturday.
Yu Keli, director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at CASS, who was at the meeting, told the Global Times that Hsieh's visit is an important step toward solving differences across the Taiwan Straits, adding that finding the solution is a long process that requires communication and understanding.
Li Fei, a professor from the Taiwan Research Center of Xiamen University in Fujian, noted that "a small step from Hsieh means a big step for the DPP."
"The DPP is reflecting its mainland policies and will make some prudent adjustments," Li told the Global Times, adding that as an influential member of the DPP, Hsieh's visit is an attempt by the party to communicate with the mainland.
"The Kuomintang (KMT) could have been worried that the DPP would steal the limelight when it comes to communications across the Straits, but it supported the visit in the hope of helping the DPP to better understand the KMT's policy toward the mainland," Li said.
Wu Poh-hsiung, honorary chairman of KMT, said Friday that Hsieh's visit to the mainland could result in fewer differences between the DPP and the KMT.
The KMT and the DPP are attracting voters in Taiwan, Li said.
However, the DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang insisted Hsieh's visit was a private one, and that Hsieh did not represent the party.
Su said the DPP has a consistent stance toward the mainland.