Taipei mayor stresses need to reduce cross-strait tension

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je reacts to media inquiries during an interview on Dec. 12. The mayor stressed the need to reduce tension and conflict between Taiwan and China on the sidelines of a forum being held in Taipei on Dec. 20. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) stressed the need to reduce tension and conflict between Taiwan and China on the sidelines of a forum being held in Taipei on Dec. 20.

“That is my basic stance, which I have never drifted away from,” Ko said following the opening of the Taipei-Shanghai Twin-City Forum.

“Shanghai has its own stance, while Taipei also has its own, and that’s why the two sides need to conduct negotiations,” Ko said.

Speaking of the possibility of expanding the twin-city forum to one that also includes Kaohsiung, the Taipei mayor was cautious, saying it is an issue that cannot be decided by Taipei and Shanghai alone.

Asked how he will deal with some people’s opposition to his statement that “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family,” Ko replied: “But some people do expect to continue exchanges with China.” “As mayor of Taipei, I’ll seek to forge the maximum benefits for most of the citizens and explore a feasible solution acceptable to the majority,” he said.

According to Ko, terms such as “1992 consensus” and “the two sides of the strait are one family” have been deemed pro-China propaganda in Taiwan, so there is a need to coin new terms acceptable to the people on both sides.

“I’ve conveyed to the Shanghai side the idea and try to explore the possibility of using dialogue to replace confrontation,” he added.

Citing the Taiwan Affairs Office under the Beijing-based State Council, Shanghai Executive Vice Mayor Zhou Bo (周波) said the “1992 consensus” serves as the political foundation for cross-strait exchanges that include city-to-city interaction between the two sides.

Zhou said he believes Ko has a “correct and consistent” understanding of cross-strait relations, and that Taipei and Shanghai will be able to establish more comprehensive ties as long as Ko maintains the belief that the “two sides of the strait are one family.”

Zhou, however, said that a three-city forum is a good idea and that Shanghai is open to the issue. But he also noted that the issue cannot be decided unilaterally by Shanghai.

Traveling at the head of a 135-member delegation, Zhou arrived in Taipei on Dec. 20 to attend the forum, which is held alternately between the two cities every year.

By Liang Pei-chi and Flor Wang