Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) is scheduled to visit the US in March, sparking speculation that he is preparing to run for president in 2020.
US officials have arranged for Ko — who is to be sworn in today for his second term — to visit in March so that they can get to know Taiwanese political leaders, sources familiar with the matter said.
Taipei City Government spokesman Liu Yi-ting (劉奕霆) on Sunday confirmed that Ko would visit the US in the spring, but added that the itinerary was still being planned.
Photo: Chen Pei-yao, Taipei Times
The US does not publicly discuss people’s visa applications due to privacy laws, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokeswoman Amanda Mansour said.
The city government has not requested help from central government agencies that handle foreign affairs, a national security official said on condition of anonimity, adding that it is normal for the heads of local governments or political parties to make overseas visits.
After he focused on relations with China during his first term, Ko planning to visit the US shortly after the start of his second term makes it appear he is sending a message to the US that he is not pro-China, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said on Sunday.
Visits to the US by a Taipei mayor are associated with plans for a presidential bid, Wang said, adding that Ko’s trip leads people to this conclusion even if it is not his intention.
The DPP did not do well in last month’s elections, so politicians are emboldened, he said.
Wang said that over the next few months, many politicians, such as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), would likely visit the US or China.
It is worth observing whether Ko’s overseas visit carries the same significance as the visits of other politicians, he said.
Ko’s intention can be discerned through his itinerary, DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) said.
Surveying municipal infrastructure, exchanging ideas on medical practice, participating in events hosted by overseas Taiwanese communities or attracting businesses to Taipei would be in line with Ko’s position as mayor, Chiu said, but added that visiting diplomatic and defense think tanks or the US Department of State would not.
In March 2016, Ko made his first trip to the US as mayor, leading a delegation of city officials and business leaders to San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles to learn from US businesses.
Speculation about whether Ko might launch a 2020 presidential bid re-emerged after his re-election and he reiterated in the opening address to the Taipei-Shanghai forum on Wednesday last week that “the two sides of the Strait are one family.”
At a news conference on Thursday last week, Ko spoke of the need for a new term to describe cross-strait relations due to the so-called “1992 consensus” and “one family” having acquired bad connotations.
The so-called “1992 consensus,” a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides of the Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
A debt dispute between a restaurant owner and a criminal ring might be behind a bizarre cockroach attack at the Taipei eatery on Monday night while it was hosting a police gathering, Taipei Police Commissioner Chen Jia-chang (陳嘉昌) said yesterday. Preliminary findings of a police investigation into the case at the G House Taipei suggest that the unusual incident might have been directed at the restaurant’s owner, who allegedly owes money to the Bamboo Union, Chen said. The suspects were Bamboo Union members and there was no evidence indicating that the cockroaches were targeted at the police officers at the restaurant, he
Taiwan’s armed forces should closely monitor China’s development of a new tanker aircraft, as it would significantly boost the Chinese air force’s capability to carry out long-range raids, a military expert said on Wednesday. Ou Si-fu (歐錫富), a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said in an online article that China is developing a tanker variant of its Y-20 military transport aircraft, known as the Y-20U. The Y-20 has a maximum take-off weight of 220 tonnes and the tanker variant is expected to carry up to 60 tonnes of fuel, more than three times the maximum
QUARANTINE BLUNDER: The government should be responsible for a cluster infection at a hotel, as the cases have caused panic, DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen said The Ministry of Transportation and Communications should make it mandatory for pilots and flight attendants, as well as their family members, to be vaccinated in view of a cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel, lawmakers said at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday. The cluster infection at the hotel had led to 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, including hotel workers, as well as China Airlines flight and cabin crew, and their family members. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday tightened quarantine requirements for pilots and flight attendants, who must quarantine
‘CLARITY AND RESOLVE’: The US has notified Taiwan, China and Japan regarding its stance against a unilateral change in the Taiwan Strait, Jake Sullivan told a forum The US opposes any unilateral action that would alter the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday. “What we would like to see is stability in cross-strait relations and no effort to unilaterally change the ‘status quo,’” Sullivan said during a virtual forum organized by the Washington-based Aspen Institute. The administration of US President Joe Biden has already communicated that message to China and affirmed it to Taiwan, as well as to its partner Japan, he said. The US’ position on the matter is straightforward, which means that it believes in the