KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih says he will not 'touch on unification issue' with China if elected

He claimed that he and his running mate are "not traditional and typical" KMT members.

Brenda Khoo | January 12, 2024, 07:33 PM



Kuomintang presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih claimed that he would not address the issue of unification with China if elected as Taiwan’s next president.

“I will not touch on the issue of unification during my term of office,” Liberty Times quoted him as saying on Jan. 11.

Hou made the remarks in response to questions raised by a reporter from the New York Times at an international pre-election press conference in Taipei, Focus Taiwan and Liberty Times reported.

What the reporter asked

The reporter had asked Hou if he would be willing to meet China’s President Xi Jinping, and if so, what would be discussed, Focus Taiwan reported.

However, according to Chinese-language Taiwanese media outlets China Times and Liberty Times, the reporter was asking Hou if he would meet Xi if the latter invited him to Beijing.

According to Focus Taiwan, Hou did not give a direct response on whether he would meet Xi, but he said that he would “not touch [with China] on the unification issue” if elected as president.

Liberty Times added that Hou said that both Taiwan and China “cannot solely rely on unilateral goodwill.”

'Different views' from Ma Ying-jeou: Hou

Central News Agency reported Hou claiming that he and his running mate Jaw Shaw-kong were "not traditional and typical" KMT members.

Hou also claimed that he has “different views” from former KMT president Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan News reported.

Hou said that he would not have “unrealistic expectations” of China, and would view China’s intentions pragmatically instead.

Compared to Ma’s time as president, Hou said that cross-strait issues have changed, and so has the relationship between China and the U.S.

Hou also blamed the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for increasing cross-strait tensions.

Therefore, he claimed that high-level exchanges between both sides would be “impossible” as compared to Ma’s term, Focus Taiwan quoted him as saying.

China Times reported Hou as saying that high-level exchanges would be “unlikely” to return to Ma’s time in the "short term", as there is still "some distance to go" for the leaders of both sides to meet.

Hou added that if both sides would want to meet, this would require a “social consensus” in Taiwan.

Ma's interview where he said unification was 'acceptable' if peaceful and democratic

Ma previously met Xi in Singapore on Nov. 7, 2015.

This was the first meeting between political leaders from Taiwan and China since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

On Jan. 10, Ma reportedly said in an interview with German media Deutsche Welle that unification with China was “actually acceptable to Taiwan”, as "democratic unification" is included in Taiwan's Constitution, although he added that this process had to be peaceful and “democratic”.

Hou says he will boost both dialogue with China and Taiwan's defence

Despite his seeming reticence on meeting with Xi, Hou said that he would seek to resume dialogue with China to mitigate cross-strait tensions if elected, Focus Taiwan reported.

Hou would use existing communication channels, including Taiwan’s Strait Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, both of which handle technical and business matters.

Hou suggested boosting exchanges with China in “lower-level non-governmental” aspects, before he would “gradually increase” communication to the official level, according to China Times.

The KMT candidate also expressed his belief that Taiwan needs to have stronger military defence to have more leverage to negotiate with China.

Hou also quoted one line in Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”: “Do not rely on the enemy not coming; rely on having enough to confront them when they do.”

The future of Taiwan would be determined by its 23 million people, he added.

On Jan. 13, Taiwanese will be voting for their next president, among the three candidates: DPP William Lai, KMT Hou, and Taiwan People’s Party Ko Wen-je.

Top image from houyuih/X.