Viewing both sides of the Taiwan Strait as family is better than viewing them as enemies, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday, after the city’s Mainland Affairs Committee held its first meeting on Thursday night.
Although the committee’s members span the political spectrum, they had arrived at a consensus on the “premise” of any cross-city talks involving China, Ko said.
“The premise [of cross-city talks] is mutual love, trust and understanding,” Ko said. “Mutual love is viewing both sides [of the Taiwan Strait] as a ‘close family’ — a ‘close family’ is better than a ‘family of enemies.’”
The mayor’s reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) buzz phrase — “viewing both sides of the Strait as a close family” — is being interpreted as a friendly gesture to the Chinese government.
Xi has used the phrase to describe his vision for cross-strait ties in lieu of Beijing’s traditional terms such as “peaceful reunification” and “one country, two systems.”
Ko’s remarks come amid uncertainty over the future of the annual Taipei-Shanghai forums, which began in 2010.
Ko’s role in directing the forum has attracted interest over whether he, as an independent, will have more leeway in taking a position on the so-called “1992 consensus” that Beijing insists must be the premise of cross-strait talks, than someone from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) or Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would have.
Ko has thus far avoided taking a position on the “consensus,” which refers to a supposed understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government reached during cross-strait talks in 1992 that both Taiwan and China acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what that means.
Ko said the committee also agreed that there should be broader civic participation in cross-city talks, instead of just the business and corporate leaders who have been invited to past forums.
The mayor has previously also called for the forum to be expanded to include other cities.
Ko said that the objective of any talks would be to “further dialogue and increase goodwill”, while reiterating that they would need to be in accordance with his principle of “four mutuals:” mutual knowing, understanding, respecting and cooperating.
The city’s Mainland Affairs Committee is directly below the mayor’s office.
Half of its membership is from outside the city government, including former Mainland Affairs Council minister Chen Min-tong (陳明通), a DPP member, and Shanghai Taiwan Investors Association director Hector Yeh (葉惠德).