China has too many other issues to worry about at the moment, from protests in Hong Kong to a slowing economy, to give much thought to Taiwan, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said on Thursday.
Ko, who has advocated for better relations with China, told reporters that while Taiwan was important to China, it was not currently the “core issue” that Beijing likes to portray.
“They say that Taiwan is a core issue, but I’m very clear that it isn’t. Taiwan is not China’s core issue,” he said.
Photo: Fang Bin-chao, Taipei Times
“In comparison to Hong Kong, to Xinjiang, Taiwan is not on the top of the priority list. For mainland China, there are their economic problems, their GDP has already fallen to below 7 percent,” Ko added in an interview, in which he switched between Mandarin and English.
Chinese-ruled Hong Kong has been rocked by anti-government protests for nearly six months, the biggest challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) since he took charge in 2012.
China has come under international opprobrium for locking up 1 million or more Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang as part of what Beijing has called a de-radicalization program.
In any case, the US — Taiwan’s most important international backer even in the absence of diplomatic ties — would not let Taiwan become formally independent or be taken over by China, Ko said.
Ko, who this year formed the Taiwan People’s Party, said that it was still too early for him to say if he would run for president in 2024, adding that he would decide when his mayoral term ends in three years.
“Do what you should do now and let God decide,” he said.
A surgeon turned politician, Ko is known for his colorful personal style. Last year he made a rap video for his mayoral re-election campaign called Do the Right Thing, which quickly went viral.
Ko has sought his own path between Taiwan’s two main political parties, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which favors close ties with China.
Visiting the US earlier this year, Ko told the Heritage Foundation that Taiwan can be close to the US, but also friendly with China.
In July, Ko traveled to Shanghai to meet with Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong (應勇). While there, he reiterated previous comments that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait “are one family.”
Ko said that he has no plans so far to go to China next year.
Senior Chinese leaders are always on their guard in such meetings, as if you make a mistake in China “you will be disappeared from the world,” he added, with a laugh.
“They were very, very nervous when they talked with me, because I’m very unpredictable. We’re very easy. We say what we think. They can’t. They’re very rigid,” Ko said.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up