Tue, Oct 23, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan is not a ‘product on a shelf’: Minister Wu

By Lu Yi-hsuan  /  Staff reporter, with Bloomberg

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je speaks at the opening of the Third Asian Public Housing Forum in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation that “is not for sale,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday after Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said that, to US President Donald Trump, “Taiwan is just a product on a shelf.”

Wu was responding to questions at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee about Ko’s statements in an interview with Bloomberg published on Friday last week.

Describing Ko as an outspoken former surgeon and potential presidential contender, the Bloomberg piece, titled “Taipei mayor says Taiwan is ‘just a product on a shelf’ for Trump,” quoted Ko as saying that the nation must focus on making itself more valuable to Trump and accept its status as a pawn in the great power play between the US and China.

Taiwan should not overestimate the US’ willingness to defend it from an attack by its much bigger neighbor, Ko was quoted as saying, adding that the nation needs to boost its value to the US by bolstering shared values, such as democracy and economic transparency.

“We have to have a very clear understanding of ourselves,” Ko was quoted as saying in the interview conducted on Wednesday last week.

In response to queries from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), Wu said that he “absolutely disagrees” with Ko’s remark.

He said he was surprised that Ko would use such poor terminology to describe Taiwan.

“It is fortunate that he is only Taipei mayor,” Wu said.

Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation that has its own diplomatic policy and national interests, Wu said, adding that all actions by the government aim to safeguard national interests and that “to whom we should sell [the nation] has never occurred in our thoughts while making foreign affairs policy.”

Lo said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should make a public statement to clarify its stance.

Ko, an independent seeking re-election, faces challenges from both the DPP and the KMT in the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections.

A survey published by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation on Sunday showed that more respondents supported Ko than KMT Taipei mayoral candidate Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and DPP mayoral candidate Pasuya Yao (姚文智) combined.

Before taking office in 2014, Ko spent 17 years as the head of surgery at National Taiwan University Hospital.

His criticism of the two major parties has helped him amass a strong social media following, with 1.9 million Facebook followers.

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