Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said that he would decide in August whether to run for president, and that he feels he is considered an “acceptable” candidate by the US and a “tolerable” one by China.
In an online interview broadcast at noon, Ko was asked to elaborate on previous remarks about being someone that Beijing could “tolerate” and that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) is someone that Beijing is “fond of.”
The comments he received after his visit to the US in March indicated that his performance on the trip was seen by Beijing as “barely passable,” he said.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
If the trip had been considered “too successful,” China would not let him travel to Shanghai again, he said, adding that in the same vein if he were too well-received by China, then Washington would not welcome him.
It is impossible to sit on the fence in modern times because there are videos and live broadcasts of politicians’ remarks, he said.
Although he has received a failing score in cross-strait relations, there is still room for makeup exams, but people who get lower than 50 points do not have the chance, he said.
Ko was also asked to comment on Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) remark that “national defense should rely on peace” and Han’s comment that “Taiwan should rely on the US for national defense.”
Ko, who has talked before about “befriending the US and being friendly to China,” said Taiwan stands on the same side as the US because they share similar values, but it does not have to let China feel it is pushing for a denial of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) legacy and desinicization, which Beijing sees as supporting Taiwanese independence.
Sometimes he does not know how Taiwan should be carefully balanced, but “in the end, we have to rely on ourselves, everything depends on ourselves,” he said.
If Taiwan increases its military procurement from the US, it could account for about 3 percent of GDP, so if Taiwan suffers from poor economic growth, then its military purchases would be doomed, he added.
Ko has long been viewed as a possible contender for next year’s presidential election, but he has refused to say if he would run and has repeatedly brushed off queries by saying that people “should ask him in June.”
He would “delay [the decision] for two more months,” possibly making a decision in August, Ko said.
Asked if he wanted to wait until the two major parties decide their candidates, Ko said that if President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had done a good job he would not face such an awkward decision.
Citing Japanese shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu’s quote about waiting patiently for the right moment to act, Ko said he thinks he is doing a good job as Taipei mayor and improving the city could have a significant impact on Taiwan.
He never said he would run for president, but that people keep putting him in opinion polls, the mayor added.
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