Thu, Jul 04, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ko leaves for Shanghai twin-city forum

‘COMMUNICATION CHANNEL’:Taiwanese values of democracy, freedom and diversity are not espoused in China, but Beijing should respect them nevertheless, Ko Wen-je said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday in Taipei waves to reporters before departing for Shanghai for the 10th annual twin-city forum.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday embarked on a three-day visit to Shanghai, saying that Taiwan and China have different values, so it is important for the two sides to have mutual understanding and respect.

Ko and Taipei City Government officials are to attend the 10th annual twin-city forum between Taipei and Shanghai.

Speaking to reporters before his departure, Ko said that in addition to exchanging municipal administrative experiences, the forum aims to show concern for Taiwanese living in China.

The event serves as an important exchange platform, as official cross-strait communication channels have been closed, he said.

“When there is such close interaction between people from the two sides, there should be an official communication channel, so that direct discussions can take place to solve problems when they occur,” Ko said.

Communication brings goodwill, and having goodwill toward each other can break the ice in cross-strait relations, he added.

Ko reiterated his “five mutual principles” — mutual recognition, understanding, respect, cooperation and consideration for each other’s interests — and said that the two sides have been politically separated for more than a century, so there is undoubtedly a gap between them and developing mutual understanding would take time.

“The Taiwanese values that I believe in are democracy, freedom, openness and diversity, which are the current system and lifestyle that Taiwanese are most concerned about, so they must be respected,” he said.

“There is a great gap between mainland people’s desire for rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and that values that Taiwanese hold dear — democracy and freedom — which shows the importance of the five mutual principles,” Ko said.

He hopes to convey the issues about which Taiwanese are concerned at the forum, Ko said, adding that he believes this could help break the cross-strait deadlock.

He praised Taiwan’s National Health Insurance system and said the nation should be allowed to attend the annual World Health Assembly as an observer, like it did previously, and attend the International Civil Aviation Organization.

In addition to protecting the rights of Taiwanese businesspeople in China, a consensus on the protection of personal freedoms and safety as stipulated in the Cross-Strait Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (海峽兩岸投資保障和促進協議) should be implemented, Ko said.

Taiwanese should also be allowed to visit family members arrested or jailed in China, he added.

Ko said he would think about Taiwan’s overall interests and people’s well-being when attending the forum, adding that something should be done to change the cross-strait relationship and direct it toward positive growth.

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