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Wed, Feb 28, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Councilors infuriated that Ma, others hesitant to criticize Chinese censorship

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei city councilors yesterday lashed out at the mild reaction voiced by Taipei City Government officials after some supposedly sensitive words in a speech by Taipei Deputy Mayor Pai Hsiu-hsiung (白秀雄) delivered in Shanghai were modified by the Chinese.

The deputy mayor, who is in Shanghai attending the second annual Taipei-Shanghai City Forum, delivered an opening speech yesterday to talk about Taipei's development and future challenges.

However, some of the so-called "sensitive words" on the handouts distributed to attendees had been modified the night before by the Shanghai organizer.

Because Pai and the delegation did not obtain the modified copies until late Monday night, Pai then made oral corrections while delivering the speech.

Some of the sensitive words that were altered included changing world-class "capital" to world-class "city," Taipei's "upgrading to a special municipality" to "re-zoning," and "Taipei metropolis" to "Taipei area."

Pai also intended to attribute the city's lack of modern infrastructure to the fact that before 1970 it was forced to use most of its resources on "preparing for the retake of China." This phrase was changed to "preparing for the retake."

Although Pai reportedly showed his displeasure in private, he failed to file a complaint because he said he was "reluctant to sabotage a friendship."

Equally surprising was that Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also expressed a moderate response yesterday, saying the city respects the action taken by China but still stands firm on its stance of building Taipei into a world-class capital.

Taipei city councilors, on the other hand, were not impressed with the timid reaction of Ma and Pai.

Taipei City Councilor Chung Hsiao-ping (鍾小平) of the New Party said that they could have acted more strongly.

"Although they responded properly, they could have been a little tougher by issuing a written statement," he said. "Besides, there's little point for China to do what it did since Taipei is in fact the capital."

DPP City Councilor Ko Chin-sheng (柯景昇) agreed.

"To protect Taiwan's national dignity, the city should have at least expressed discontent or even issued a written statement, requesting the organizer make amends or apologize," he said. "What was done was a direct snub to us, and it will definitely have a negative impact on future city exchanges and cross-strait relations."

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