Renowned surgeon and outspoken political activist Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said he is visiting Beijing to “get to know China and be known by China.”
Ko flew to the Chinese capital on Sunday as part of a delegation to attend a two-day academic conference on the ideas and life of Chiang Wei-shui (蔣渭水), one of the most important figures in Taiwan’s resistance to Japanese colonial rule.
The conference is being hosted by the Taipei-based Taiwan Research Fund along with the China Council for the Promotion of Cultural Development, which is headquartered in Beijing. The meeting was scheduled to begin yesterday.
Ko, an attending physician and chairman of National Taiwan University Hospital’s Department of Traumatology, said that China is “an issue that Taiwan inevitably needs to face and so he plans to “observe the country up close.”
Now is the right time to be “on the frontlines” for observation, he added.
As for “becoming known by China,” Ko said he does not want China to know Taiwan only through “another batch of people,” apparently hinting at members and supports of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Although he stopped short of saying he represented a majority of Taiwanese pubic opinion, “at least I represent a big chunk of the public,” Ko said.
He expressed hope that he can help promote mutual understanding during his visit, adding that his goal is to seek “mutual respect.”
Ko’s delegation is headed by Control Yuan member and Taiwan Research Fund founder Huang Huang-hsiung (黃煌雄), and includes professors from National Chengchi University and National Taiwan University.
The Chinese delegation is mostly comprised of academics specializing in Taiwan affairs, the organizers said.
It is Ko’s first visit to China since 2008, because for five years, he was unable to obtain a permit from the Chinese authorities to travel to China because of his open criticism of former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) Taiwan policy.
Prior to 2008, Ko said he had visited China frequently for medical exchanges.
The outspoken surgeon, who has often commented on domestic affairs, has been mentioned as a possible opposition candidate for Taipei mayor in next year’s election.