Ko Wen-je told China straight-up that Tsai Ing-wen will be called president, not leader

The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said Friday he had repudiated a bid by a Chinese official to downgrade the status of Taiwan’s president during the Summer Universiade.

The international sporting event for college students opens in mid-August with a ceremonial address by President Tsai Ing-wen.

Ko said Friday that a mainland Chinese official had visited Taiwan in April and asked him to arrange for Tsai to not speak onstage.

Ko told reporters that he had said, “If she does not go onstage, I will go offstage (resign).”

The official then asked for Tsai to be introduced as Taiwan’s “leader” in lieu of “president,” Ko said, adding that he had again objected.

He told local media that he had conveyed his views to the International University Sports Federation, the governing body of the Summer Universiade games. Ko was speaking to reporters shortly after returning from a much-debated visit to Shanghai, which some in Taiwan have viewed as a display of subservience to Chinese officials.

A reporter asked Ko, “Did you change your mind about (insisting on Tsai’s title) after the Shanghai forum?”

“No,” he replied.

China previously announced that it would not be competing in group events at the Summer Universiade in Taipei, but that its athletes would compete in individual events.

The registration deadline for individual events is July 19. Though athletes from mainland China are still expected to participate, none has yet to apply, according to Chinese Television System.

Ko declined to comment on Friday but said the Taipei City Government “hoped everyone would participate” and that “harmony was precious” during international sporting events.