Taipei mayor: cross-Taiwan Strait deadlock can be overcome

Shanghai--Visiting Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???) said Sunday that the current deadlock between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can be overcome to some extent based on the concept that "both sides belong to one family."

"If we work to put the welfare of the people as our goal based on the concept that both sides belong to one family, increase the exchange and cooperation between the two sides so as to construct a cross-strait community of a common destiny and to pursue a better future for people on the both sides, then certain deadlock we're facing at the moment can be broken," he said.

Ko repeated his idea about the two sides of the Taiwan Strait being part of one family when speaking at the opening of the 2017 Taipei-Shanghai City Forum. He dedicated half of his 6-minute speech on relations between Taiwan and China.

In his speech, Ko proposed remedies for the cross-strait deadlock resulting from the policy of the President Tsai Ing-wen (???) administration to not accept the "1992 consensus" that Beijing said forms the foundation for cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

Beijing sees self-governing Taiwan as part of the Chinese territory, to be united by force if necessary.

"Cross-strait ties are an important factor that affects Taiwanese people's lives," Ko said.

He pointed out that Taiwan used to have a "three-no" policy toward China -- no contact, no negotiation, no compromise -- but in 1987, Taiwan lifted a ban for people to visit their relatives in China, marking the first step toward reconciliation across the Taiwan Strait.

Now, three decades of cross-strait exchanges have proved two things, he said.

One is that a government should work to meet people's demand and people's interest should be the goal of a government's efforts and two, while it is not impossible to resolve the confrontation, both sides have to work hard to achieve mutual respect, cooperation and understanding.

The forum's host, Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong (??), noted that 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of civil exchanges between the two sides of the strait since 1949.

"Being part of a family and an inseparable community of common destiny, the peoples of the two sides should interact, conduct exchanges and cooperate with each other frequently," Ying said.

He hailed the achievements -- 26 cooperation memorandums of understanding (MOUs) that the two cities have signed since the first forum was held in Taipei in 2010. Since then, the forum has taken place by turn in the two cities every year.

"Today there will be four more MOUs to be signed," said Ying, praising such agreements for having boosted the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

This year, he went on, "healthy cities" is the theme of the forum. In this area, he believes Taipei can provide good examples as "Mayor Ko himself is an expert in the area," Ying said.

A well-known surgeon who was elected mayor of Taipei in Nov. 2014, Ko flew to Shanghai for the forum the previous day, becoming the first chief of Taiwan's major municipalities to come to China after Taiwan's relations with China began to cool a year ago.

The first-time politician has said he would run for a second four-year term as mayor next year but he is also believed to be interested in running for president eventually.

Ko is attending the annual event at the head of a delegation of 58 city government officials and 10 Taipei City councilors. Ko and the delegation are scheduled to return home on Monday.

It had been doubtful if the twin-city forum could take place this year because of chilly cross-strait relations in the wake of China's detention of a Taiwanese human rights activist in March and a series of diplomatic setbacks Taiwan met with over the past year, including Panama's switching of diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing last month.

Commenting on the forum in Shanghai, Taiwan's Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (???) said the Tasi government sees any city-to-city exchanges without political preconditions in a positive light.

He added, however, "especially at this moment, when Taiwan faces difficult diplomatic challenges, our citizens deeply hope that we stay united and that their views are properly represented during such exchange activities."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel