Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Taipei City councilors call for increased diplomacy

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City councilors yesterday urged Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to improve the city’s international relations and put greater effort into promoting city-to-city diplomacy.

Although the number of Taipei City’s sister cities has increased over the years, the city diplomacy budget had been reduced under Hau’s administration, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Wang Chih-ping (汪志冰) said.

“As the leader of the capital city, Taipei’s mayor should look ahead and promote ties with foreign cities. However, I do not think this administration has put enough effort into strengthening relations with other cities,” she said yesterday during a question-and-answer session at the Taipei City Council.

Taipei City has established ties with 45 sister cities around the world. The annual budget listed for city diplomacy, however, was reduced to NT$143 million (US$4.3 million) this year from NT$179 million last year, according to statistics from the city government’s Secretariat.

Former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) visited 10 sister cities in his eight-year term, while Hau only visited one sister city — Boston in the US — this year, Wang said.

KMT Taipei City Councilor Chen Yu-mei (陳玉梅) joined Wang to urge the city government to increase the budget for city diplomacy, and called on Hau to strengthen the function of Taipei City’s International Affairs Commission. There were only 10 members in the commission, and they only meet for discussions twice a year, Chen said.

In response, Hau promised to consider increasing the city diplomacy budget, and said he planned to visit San Francisco in the US and Yokohama in Japan this year.

Hau said his administration will also seek sister city ties with cities in Central America, South America and Europe.

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