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Sat, Feb 17, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Mayor disgruntled with Taipei

LOOKING AHEAD Upon learning after his trip to Hong Kong that Taipei was not on par with its counterpart in some areas, Ma is taking steps to ensure the city improves

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, center, held a meeting yesterday at the Taipei City Government after a five-day high-profile visit to Hong Kong.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Coming back from his four-day visit to Hong Kong, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday showed his anger at Taipei's poor city management compared with its counterpart in Hong Kong.

After listening to the briefing delivered by the Bureau of Transportation (交通局) yesterday morning, Ma demanded bureau officials formulate a measure within one month to deal with the city's increasing road deaths.

He also cited examples that praised Hong Kong's efficiency in carrying out construction projects.

"It takes Hong Kong one year to build a 60-story building, but it takes us seven years to complete a 12-floor building ... I have no idea what the heck you guys have been doing," Ma said.

Though Ma said he was genuinely upset by the city's poor performance, some analysts say that he seized on the issue only to draw attention to city-to-city matters, in an attempt to deflect accusations made by the media that his visit was primarily geared toward cross-strait relations.

As media attention focused on the issues of cross-strait relations during Ma's ice-breaking visit, little notice was paid to the correction made by China's state-run media after it had misquoted Ma and the no-show of Anson Chan (陳方安生), Hong Kong's soon-to-retire chief secretary for administration.

While the correction, which is rare in Chinese media, is widely seen as one of the many successes of Ma's visit, the failure to see Chan is seen by some to be one of the setbacks.

Unprecedented move

On Wednesday, a Beijing English-language newspaper, the China Daily, quoted Ma as saying that Taiwan should accept the "one country, two systems" model used by China to govern Hong Kong.

The paper was later quick to apologize for the mistake it had made by printing a correction on page two. The correction did not, however, mention "one country, two systems" nor explain how the error had occurred.

The correction read: "Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou said in Hong Kong yesterday that he agrees the Taiwan authorities should accept the one China principle, and that Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei could further cooperate under this principle."

Although King Pu-tsung (金浦聰), spokesman for the Taipei City Government, said that the city acknowledges the quick action made by the paper, it could have worded the statement in a more precise manner.

"Mayor Ma has repeatedly and clearly stated the idea of `one China with different interpretations' during his visit. Although the correction mentioned the `one China principle,' we regret that it failed to mention the part on different interpretations, which we think is very important," he said.

Nevertheless, corrections are rarely seen in China's state-run media because it frequently misquotes Taiwanese officials without later correcting the erroneous reports.

The unprecedented move was widely seen by political analysts as a sign that China favors Ma over President Chen Shu-bian (陳水扁), who has displeased China since taking office by refusing to embrace the "one China" policy.

China's act of kindness, however, might not benefit Ma in the end -- who might campaign for presidency, because, after all, only a small percentage of Taiwan's population favors the idea of unification with China.

Chao Chien-min (趙建民), political science professor at the Sun Yat-sen Graduate Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (中山人文社會科學研究所) at National Chengchi University (政治大學), said that it is hard to say whether the move was a positive one for Ma.

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