Fri, Dec 14, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Taipei calls for central support

‘NATIONAL GATEWAY’:An expansion of the West District Gateway Project would require the central government’s cooperation to accelerate urban renewal of the area

By Shen Pei-yao and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

From left, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and President Tsai Ing-wen scratch their foreheads during a briefing on the West District Gateway Project in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The Taipei City Government yesterday called on the central government to support an expansion of its West District Gateway Project during a closely watched meeting between President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

At about 2pm yesterday, Tsai and Ko met at the plaza of the historic North Gate (北門) in Taipei, where Taipei Deputy Mayor Charles Lin (林欽榮) briefed the president on improvements made to the surrounding area before the group went into the adjacent Taipei Post Office for further discussions.

Lin began by outlining some of the major accomplishments of the project during Ko’s first term as mayor, including the demolition of a ramp to Zhongxiao Bridge (忠孝橋); the resurfacing of the North Gate, which was partially obstructed from view by the ramp; the construction of the Taipei Travel Plaza (台北行旅廣場); and the relocation, preservation and reopening of the Mitsui Warehouse (三井倉庫).

He then discussed three of the project’s next goals: the construction of Taipei Twin Towers (台北雙子星); the restoration and reopening of the Japanese colonial-era Railway Department’s headquarters as a museum; and the transformation of the area around Taipei Post Office into a hub for innovation and financial technology.

The city government hopes to turn the project, which it initiated to rehabilitate the area’s image as a gateway to the capital, into a “national gateway project,” into which NT$100 billion (US$3.24 billion) would be invested, Lin said.

The city government would lead the initiative, but as much of the land within the planned development area belongs to various central government agencies or government-owned businesses, the central and city governments would need to work together to speed up the project, he added.

About 30 minutes into the meeting, an adviser handed Tsai a note, which she read before passing to Ko.

The note’s message prompted both to smile.

Asked by reporters about the note’s content at a question-and-answer session after the meeting, Tsai was initially reluctant to read it aloud, but then said that the note pertained to some members of the media commenting on the lack of interaction between her and Ko during the meeting.

Tsai and Ko were asked what was discussed during a 15-minute break in the meeting to allow the media to move their equipment inside the building.

Organizers had originally said that the entirety of the meeting would be public.

“I do not know if you will believe me,” Tsai said, adding that they discussed the report they were about to hear.

Other people were in the room in which they were waiting, she said.

Asked about his thoughts on cooperation between the pan-green camp led by the Democratic Progressive Party and a so-called “white force” he represents, Ko said that there would be no conflict, as long as everyone prioritizes the well-being of the public.

He declined to comment on whether he would support a potential re-election bid by Tsai in 2020.

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