Wed, Dec 12, 2018 - Page 1 News List

President Tsai decries row over Wu Pao-chun

CATCHING FIRE:The famed baker faced outrage and accusations from Taiwanese and Chinese netizens questioning his politics on independence

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Award-winning Taiwanese baker Wu Pao-chun, left, accompanied by Kaohsiung mayor-elect Han Kuo-yu, right, talks to reporters in Kaohsiung after sparking a political controversy with his “one China” statement.

Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday urged China to remove political prerequisites from cross-strait exchanges after renowned Taiwanese baker Wu Pao-chun (吳寶春) faced calls for a boycott when he identified himself as a “baker born in Taiwan, China,” apparently for fear of being branded an independence supporter.

Tsai said she does not blame Wu, but the “serious matter” underscores China’s political distortion of economic and trade activities.

“The situation exists not only in our everyday lives, but also around the world. It is a matter of shared concern with the international community, but Taiwan is standing on the front lines and should be particularly alert to it,” Tsai told reporters at the Presidential Office in Taipei.

Taiwanese have time and again given standard statements due to perceived coercion, Tsai said.

“All Taiwanese know what is going on and that it is political suppression, which will neither be accepted by the people of the nation nor the world,” she said.

Such threats have caused cross-strait relations to backslide, Tsai said, urging Beijing to remove political prerequisites so that both sides of the Taiwan Strait could engage in “normal and healthy” interactions.

The president made the remarks one day after Wu in a statement rejected speculation that he supported Taiwanese independence, saying that while Taiwan is the land that nurtured him, he was born in “Taiwan, China” and is “proud to be Chinese.”

Wu said he adheres to the idea that “both sides of the Strait belong to the same family” and supports the so-called “1992 consensus.”

Former Mainland Affairs Council minister Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up the so-called consensus in 2000, which refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Wu last week in Shanghai held a soft opening for his first shop in China, but met with criticism from Chinese netizens who accused him of saying that he would “rather starve to death than [bring his brand] to China.”

Wu in his statement denied having ever said that.

He issued another statement after the first one sparked outrage in Taiwan, in which he said he is only a bakery owner and is not equipped to resolve cross-strait problems.

Hopefully, his bread could become “an ambassador for cross-strait exchanges,” he added.

Kaohsiung mayor-elect Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) yesterday supported Wu at a news conference in the city, calling on Taiwanese to support and cherish the world-renowned baker.

“Both sides of the Taiwan Strait have their differences of opinion. I hope people on both sides could help, protect and give their blessings to a simple businessman who wishes to develop his business without becoming too involved in politics,” Han said, adding that there is no need to repeatedly state ideologies.

Wu declined to elaborate on his decision to issue the statements, only saying that he is simply a professional baker who has endeavored to befriend and inspire the younger generation.

Han’s office said the mayor-elect decided to attend the news conference to support local businesses, put aside politics and focus on economic growth.

Wu rose to fame after he won the title of Bakery Master in the bread category at the 2010 Bakery World Cup in Paris.

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