Sun, Nov 10, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ministry says Taipei-Prague deal should be made

NAME GAME:The Taipei City Council failed to reach an agreement because the title of the proposed sister-city agreement referred to the nation by the name ‘Taiwan’

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

A proposed sister-city agreement between Taipei and Prague is pictured on Friday.

Photo: Chen Ching-min, Taipei Times

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it supports the sister-city proposal between Taipei and Prague and is willing to help, after the Taipei City Council on Friday shelved the plan due to objections from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) councilors over Taiwan’s name.

Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib met Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) at a smart city summit in March, when Hrib expressed the hope that a sister-city deal could be signed.

Hrib, who became mayor in November last year, last month ended a sister-city deal with Beijing over its refusal to remove the “one China” principle from that agreement.

The Taipei City Council’s civil affairs committee on Friday failed to reach an agreement on the city government’s proposal to establish official sister-city ties with the Czech Republic’s capital.

Taipei City Government Deputy Secretary-General Hsueh Chuen-ming (薛春明) and Taipei City Government spokesman Tom Chou (周台竹) presented the proposal, including an English-language document titled Agreement Between the City of Prague, Czech Republic, and the City of Taipei, Taiwan, on the Establishment of Sister City Relationship, for the committee to review.

However, KMT Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) said that the nation’s official name is not “Taiwan,” so the agreement should use “the city of Taipei” and “Republic of China.”

City Councilor Lee Ching-yuan (李慶元), an independent, said that the agreement should stick with the names it has used for the past 20 years, as “city of Taipei” used alone would avoid constitutional debates.

People First Party Taipei City Councilor Lin Kuo-cheng (林國成) said he agreed that the nation’s name could be excluded.

The agreement has passed a review at the Prague City Council, meaning any change to the documentation would have to be examined again by Prague, Democratic Progressive Party Councilor Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) said.

“Why does Taipei have to reject ‘Taiwan’ when Prague has accepted it?” Liang asked.

The committee shelved the proposal and asked the city government to revise it, with reference to its previous sister-city deals.

Given Taiwan’s difficult situations on the global stage, it is a rare opportunity that a foreign city is willing to establish ties with Taipei, Ko told the council.

The Taipei City Government would communicate with its council while keeping a low profile, otherwise Beijing might seek to spoil the deal, he said.

Unpredictable situations might arise if the council shelves the agreement, said Chou, who is a former representative to the Netherlands.

Ko is to lead a delegation to Prague and other east European cities in January, he said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement that the ministry was not involved in negotiations between Taipei and Prague.

Nonetheless, the ministry supports local governments’ international interactions that uphold mutual benefit and respect, she said.

It supports Taipei and Prague signing a sister-city agreement and would continue offering assistance in a bid to deepen the bilateral friendship between the two nations, she said.

Additional reporting by Lee I-chia

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