Sun, Jun 28, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Ko willing to attend Shanghai forum

NO FOLLOWING?Taipei Mainland Affairs Committee member Chang Jung-feng said the city is not required to continue everything the previous city administration did

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je gestures during an interview in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he would attend a Taipei-Shanghai forum “if there is the opportunity” to do so, following media reports that negotiations between Taipei and Shanghai over this year’s summit had broken down.

“There will always be discussion and compromise over anything as important as this, so it would not be accurate to say that everything is going smoothly,” Ko said. “Instead, one should say that everything is still moving forward.”

The Chinese-language China Times reported that negotiations over the forum — which is held annually between the two city governments — were at a standstill for this year’s event after Ko rejected Shanghai’s demands to demonstrate greater “goodwill.”

Ko said that the so-called “1992 consensus” — which Beijing insists must be the foundation of cross-strait talks — was the main issue of contention.

He said that he felt that “content” is more important than “labels,” adding that the Chinese Communist Party has historically been “pragmatic.”

The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000 — refers to a supposed understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both Taiwan and China acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

While Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong (楊雄) said the forum can be continued only if the “1992 consensus” is used as a basis for talks, Ko has said his position is that cross-strait exchanges should respect the past “history of interactions” and be conducted based on the “present political foundation.”

Ko said that his “2015 viewpoint” was at least “tolerable” to both sides, adding that he was subject to pressure domestically as well as from China.

He added that the Taipei City Government hoped Shanghai’s leadership would visit Taipei in the near future for further negotiations, following visits by Taipei Deputy Mayor Chou Li-fang (周麗芳) to Shanghai and Xiamen last month.

Taipei Mainland Affairs Committee member Chiu Pei-lin (邱珮琳) said that no response to Shanghai’s demands was passed at last week’s committee meeting, because committee members were unsure what was meant by “goodwill.”

Committee member Chang Jung-feng (張榮豐) said that Shanghai had not defined “goodwill,” making it difficult to reply.

Chang said that the committee had discussed downgrading the summit so that deputy mayors could lead the delegations from each side.

Shanghai has not ruled out sending a representative to Taipei for further discussions, Chang added.

“We are not required to continue everything that was done by the [previous administration of the] KMT,” he said, adding that if the forum continued to take place, the Taipei City Government would take along a range of civil groups, in contrast to the previous city administration’s focus on corporations.

The annual forum, which was initiated in 2001 by civic groups as a channel for exchanges between the largest Taiwanese and Chinese cities, was organized at an official level in 2010 in Taipei for the first time.

Since then, the two cities have taken turns hosting the meetings.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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