Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors yesterday accused city officials of visiting China too often and urged Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to ensure such trips did not undermine the nation’s dignity by attending domestic events in China.
Amid frequent cross-strait exchanges, Taipei City’s Department of Education has listed annual budgets to attend the Network Originality Competition (NOC) for middle-school students in China, DPP Taipei City Councilor Ho Chi-wei (何志偉) said, showing documents from the organizers that described the event as a “national activity” for schools in China.
“Did ‘national’ refer to the Republic of China or the People’s Republic of China? Should Taipei City send officials or students to attend a domestic event in China?” Ho asked during a question-and-answer session at Taipei City Council.
Elementary-school students who attended the event have reportedly complained about being asked by the organizers to sing the Chinese national anthem at the opening and closing ceremonies, he said.
Department of Education Commissioner Kang Tzong-hu (康宗虎) said the city’s schools were invited to attend the event as part of city-to-city relations and added that schools from China also attended events in Taipei.
The department said the NOC is an annual event organized by the Chinese Ministry of Education since 2002 to promote informational technology education. Taipei has been sending teachers and students to the event since 2006.
In response, Hau said the nation’s dignity remained the city government’s top priority whenever it engaged in cross-strait exchanges.
“Taipei City [officials] have attended several events in China such as the Shanghai World Expo, but that does not mean that we agree Taiwan is part of China,” he said.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) challenged local borough and district chiefs over their frequent visits to China, singling out Neihu District (內湖) chief Chang Jin-chen (張金鎮) for already visited China five times this year.
Chang visited China more than 10 times over the past two years without asking for leave from the city’s Department of Civil Affairs, as is required by city regulations, Kao said.
“Mayor Hau, you appointed all the district chiefs and I don’t think their over friendly attitude toward China is positive for the city’s image,” she said.
Hau said many borough and district chiefs, who are given budgets to engage in foreign inspection tours, preferred China as a destination because of the common language and cheaper flights, but agreed that China should not be their only destination.
“I do not necessarily agree with their frequent visits to China, but we need to respect their decision on where to conduct such inspection tours. We will discuss the issue and try to strike a better balance,” he said.