Just after the People’s Liberation Army sent ballistic missiles flying over Taiwan and effectively blockaded the island’s ports in a ferocious show of force in the aftermath of a visit by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the vice chairman of the opposition Kuomintang, or Nationalist party, Andrew Hsia, began a 17-day visit to the mainland with cries of “traitor” ringing in his ears.

Upon his return, KMT Chairman Eric Chu had one word to describe Hsia, who had met with mainland officials responsible for dealing with Taiwan: “Brave.”

This is an apt description, though perhaps not the only one. The KMT knew the governing Democratic Progressive Party would cast the trip as a betrayal of Taiwan while sucking up to the mainland at the very time when Beijing was threatening the continued existence of the island as a political entity.