Sun, Dec 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

China to add pressure on Ko at cities forum: academic

By Chung Li-hua and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, right, holds a copy of his book The Ko P Model during an event in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Huang Chien-hao, Taipei Times

An academic yesterday predicted that independent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) would face greater Chinese pressure at the twin-city forum in Taipei on Dec. 20 due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) wins in the Nov. 24 elections.

The academic, speaking on condition of anonymity, was previously on the Taipei City Government’s China Affairs Committee.

Although Ko has shied away from the so-called “1992 consensus,” he did make advances toward Beijing with his statement that “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one family” at last year’s forum, the academic said.

The “1992 consensus,” a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted to making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that both sides of the Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

The academic said that Ko’s statement had earmarked him as a possible go-between for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese government.

While politically independent, Ko professes to be pan-green.

Meanwhile, KMT Kaohsiung mayor-elect Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) has openly voiced support for the “1992 consensus,” so Ko could be sidelined, the academic said.

Ko might be pressured by China to take a stance on cross-strait issues if he wishes to further develop relations between Taipei and Chinese cities, they added.

A dip in support when Ko tried to distance himself from the “two sides are one family” statement was a clear sign that Taiwanese demand a definitive stance on cross-strait issues, they said, adding that the DPP should consider itself warned.

A pan-green academic said that they told Ko before the polls that he should adopt a strong posture with the Chinese and not flatter them or make too many concessions, as that would only diminish his stature in their eyes, adding: “You voiced your opinion when you made that statement — you can’t take that back.”

Asked about the “1992 concensus” and the “two sides are one family” statements, Lin Wen-cheng (林文程), professor at National Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies, said both statements are wordplay, mere political maneuvering.

For Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), the words mean that both sides are part of “one China,” and Taiwanese are inseparable members of the Chinese ethnic group (Zhonghua minzu, 中華民族), Lin said.

“Like the ‘1992 consensus,’ Ko’s statements could reveal a schism [between Taiwan and China], but are politically acceptable when kept vague,” Lin said.

China has demonstrated a preference for the “1992 consensus” over “the two sides are one family.”

“The two sides are one family” was only mentioned at the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, but the “1992 consensus” was mentioned at both the 18th and the 19th congresses, Lin said.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Municipal Taiwan Affairs Office Director Li Wenhui (李文輝) will arrive today in Taipei to take stock of preparations for the forum.

The Mainland Affairs Council and the National Immigration Agency have lifted restrictions on Li out of respect for Ko, Lin said.

Li was barred from entering Taiwan after he attended a music festival at National Taiwan University cosponsored by the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs and Chinese TV song competition Sing! China, which was not the stated reason for his visit.

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