The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday raised questions over the appropriateness of vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吴敦义) attending the Boao Forum for Asia, saying his presence at the Chinese symposium as a “business leader” would constitute a “self-deprecating” move.

Having stepped down from his post as premier on Jan. 31, Wu is scheduled to attend the annual conference being held in Hainan, China, from March 31 to April 3. He is expected to meet Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is expected to become premier in the next transition of power in Beijing.

Citing information on the forum’s official Web site, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an said Wu would attend the forum as a “business leader” in his capacity as “senior adviser of the Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation.”

Wu’s name was not found under the category of “leader and former leaders” or “officials,” Pan said, adding that Wu should demand to be placed under those categories to show that there is “one China” with different interpretations.

Wu would not be the first vice president-elect to make an appearance at the forum. In 2008, Vice President Vincent Siew attended the conference before his inauguration and met Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Pan questioned whether the appearances at the event were a coincidence or a common practice, saying: “If it is the latter, does it mean that every vice president-elect has to meet with Chinese leaders before taking office?”

"If so, it would be kowtowing to Beijing and a disgrace to the nation,” he said.

The DPP accused Wu of not applying to the Ministry of the Interior to make a foreign visit before registering with the forum organizers and slammed President Ma Ying-jeou’s (马英九) administration, saying it was making trips by vice presidents-elect to the forum routine.

This was no different from sending delegates and paying tribute to an empire, they said.

The Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation on Tuesday confirmed that Wu had registered last week to attend the conference as an adviser to the foundation. Foundation chairman Chan Huo-sheng said Wu’s attendance would be finalized after the forum organizers confirmed his registration.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Yin Wei played down the DPP criticism and accused it of trying to distort the significance of Wu’s participation.

"The DPP is exercising the same tactic of distorting and smearing the government’s attendance at the forum … It should view [our attendance] as part of normal activities in cross-strait exchanges,” he said.

Yin said the foundation began participating in the forum in 2001 and promoted the normalization of cross-strait economic and trade exchanges as a non-official group.

Siew’s attendance at the forum four years ago confirmed that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would set aside differences and seek win-win situations, he said.

The Ma administration has always promoted peaceful cross-strait relations and systematic cross-strait negotiations while making Taiwan’s interests a priority, he added, urging the DPP to abandon its closed-door policies and challenging it to recognize the calls for more cross-strait exchanges on the economy in its post-election discussions.

"The Boao Forum is a platform for economic and trade talks, and delegates from each participating country are on equal footing … If the DPP opposes such a forum, how would it respond to the call for cross-strait exchanges from the majority? Did the DPP put enough efforts into reviewing its cross-strait policies?” he said.

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