Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) yesterday said he would not travel to the US in his capacity as the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, citing a busy campaign schedule at home in the run-up to the Jan. 11 election.
Han made the announcement on the sidelines of a campaign event in Pingtung County yesterday afternoon.
Visiting the US would take at least two weeks and with the presidential election only 84 days away, he is under enormous time pressure, as he has several campaign destinations in Taiwan proper, as well as in Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, Han said.
Photo: Wang Jung-hsiang, Taipei Times
His campaign team had to reluctantly leave out a US trip so he could engage more grassroots voters in Taiwan, Han said.
However, he would visit the US if the opportunity arises after the election, he said, adding that he promised American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty that he would.
Han on Wednesday began a three-month break from his mayoral duties to campaign for the presidency, but he canceled his leave yesterday to meet with Moriarty at the Kaohsiung City Government.
Han thanked Moriarty for traveling all the way from the US to Taipei and then to Kaohsiung.
He said that the new clothes he was wearing symbolized a joyful mood.
Han told Moriarty that the US is Taiwan’s most important and unwavering ally.
Moriarty said the warm hospitality he receives in Taiwan reflects the robust bilateral relationship and reiterated that ties are at their best since the US’ Taiwan Relations Act was signed 40 years ago.
The meeting was open to the media for the first 10 minutes before doors were closed for a private session, which was attended by other city government officials, academics and advisers from Han’s national policy team.
Separately, sources from Han’s campaign team said that a visit to the US might not necessarily have benefited Han, as there are concerns that the diplomatic apparatus of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration might engage in “petty actions.”
Han might have been given “a hard time” in the US, although the hospitality there might have appeared no less than what is afforded a politician from the pan-green camp, the sources said.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiao-kuang and Hsu li-chuan
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