Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), who recently described himself as having an affinity toward China, on Thursday in Los Angeles said that his pro-Taiwan independence stance remains unchanged.
Earlier this month, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party mayor surprised the public when he said he feels “affinity toward China as much as he loves Taiwan.”
The matter aroused great interest among the Taiwanese expatriate community in the US during Lai’s visit.
Asked about the matter by a member of the audience after giving a speech in Los Angeles, Lai said “feel affinity toward China, love Taiwan” means reaching the hand of friendship out to China, with Taiwan at the center, in the hope of enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation, and facilitating the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
Lai said it is a gesture of friendship and also an attitude.
It is similar to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) opinion that Taiwan should be “friendly to China,” Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu’s (陳菊) view that Taiwan should “know China,” and Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsang’s (鄭文燦) belief that Taiwan should “reconcile with China,” Lai said.
He said “feeling affinity toward China” can also be equated with “getting close to Chinese.”
Stressing that there is no change to his pro-independence stance, Lai said an advocate of Taiwanese independence can also reach out the hand of friendship to China without any contradiction.
However, he expressed disagreement with the idea of Taiwan signing a peace agreement with China, saying that such an agreement would not help bring peace, as is evident in the example of Israel.
Lai recalled that during a visit he made last year to Jerusalem to attend the International Conference of Mayors, he was told by the event’s organizer that peace is not achieved by an agreement signed behind closed doors by a minority of people — it would only arrive after a long period of exchanges that lead to cooperation and mutual trust.
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