Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday concluded his visit to Shanghai, where he attended this year’s Taipei-Shanghai Forum, with a controversial closed-door meeting with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) at the Hongqiao State Guest Hotel.
Ko repeatedly evaded confirming the meeting by saying that he did not know if it would happen.
The meeting was officially confirmed yesterday morning.
“This year’s forum especially attracted people’s attention because the cross-strait situation has changed, but the mainland’s policy toward Taiwan remains clear, consistent and would not change because of the change in Taiwan’s government,” Zhang said before the closed-door meeting.
“We always think of the two sides of the Strait as one family, a community with a shared destiny, and if the family lives in harmony, all affairs would prosper,” he said.
China would welcome “Taiwanese, regardless if a political party, group or individual, as long as they have the correct comprehension of cross-strait relations and are willing to actively participate and push forward a peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” Zhang said.
Ko on Sunday afternoon attended a street dance performance by high-school students in Shanghai.
“There are many youth subcultures, such as street dance, tattooing, or group board games,” he said. “Young people have their own world, so I am thinking, if the annual twin-city forum is held in Taipei next year, I would set up a young peoples’ forum especially for high-school students.”
Young people often come up with new ideas that middle-aged people cannot, Ko said, adding: “They are more lively than we are.”
“The mainland can commercialize its engineering technology and sell it to other nations and also take on overseas construction contracts; this is something that Taiwan can learn from,” Ko said after visiting the Shanghai Yangtze River Tunnel and Bridge control center yesterday morning.
The progress of China’s infrastructure development has been marvelously quick, he said.
The Taiwanese government is planning an expensive railway system project and it is a pity that the nation has not yet established a railway industry of its own, he said.
“Shanghai’s progress in e-commerce and e-distribution is way ahead of Taipei’s, so if we were allowed to reset the theme of the forum, I would have preferred e-commerce and e-distribution, so Taipei can really learn,” Ko said, responding to media inquiries about possible exchanges between the two cities.
China’s economic growth rate last year was 6.8 percent to 7 percent, while Taiwan’s was only 1 percent to 2 percent over the same period, Ko said.
“Due to reasons including national defense and a lack of trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan cannot be fully integrated into China’s economic system,” he said, adding that if the two sides reduced obstacles caused by distrust, Taiwan’s economic growth rate would likely increase.
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