Taipei mayor calls U.S. visit invitation fake news

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Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je participates in the flag-raising ceremony organized on Jan. 1 in front of the Presidential Office. The mayor dismissed as misinformation media reports that he has been invited by an American expert to visit think tanks in Washington, D.C. during a planned U.S. trip in March. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Jan. 1 dismissed as misinformation media reports that he has been invited by an American expert to visit think tanks in Washington, D.C. during a planned U.S. trip in March.

Ko said his administrative team never said it had received an invitation from Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“This is typical fake news,” he said. “I only said we will go to the U.S. in March. That’s it, no more,” Ko told reporters.

Ko was commenting on a statement released a day earlier by Glaser, in which she denied she had extended an invitation to Ko.

Online Up Media first reported last Friday that Glaser, leading a group of CSIS members, visited Ko at Taipei City Hall in December.

During the meeting, Glaser and Ko agreed that the mayor will visit U.S. think tanks and hold a closed-door event during the March trip, the report said.

On Dec. 31, however, China Times said it was Glaser who invited Ko.

In a statement emailed to CNA, Glaser said the Up Media report and those following it contained “inaccurate information and in my view are trying to portray me as supporting Ko’s bid for the presidency.”

Glaser confirmed she met with Ko Dec. 17 along with a small group of U.S. experts on Taiwan as part of a research trip. However, the proposal to visit think tanks in Washington was made by a staff member in Ko’s office, she said.

The staff member had approached a leading U.S. expert at one of the major think tanks, which Glaser said was not CSIS, weeks before their visit to Taiwan, she said.

That expert, whose name was not divulged, “offered to hold a closed-door meeting with U.S. scholars for Ko during his planned March trip to the United States,” she noted.

“Later, the expert and I discussed the proposed event, and I agreed to co-host it,” Glaser said but underlined that “the event will not be held at CSIS.” “I did not ‘spring’ this invitation to Ko when we met in December.

I did not seek to persuade him to visit Washington,” Glaser stressed, noting that it is obvious that “members of Ko’s staff decided to distort the facts so that it would appear that not only I, but also CSIS, where I work, are supporting his presidency.”

“It is really strange that the person who provided the information mentioned only me and CSIS, instead of the person and the think tank that is actually hosting the event.

“I strongly object to being used in this way. I am a scholar and long-time supporter of Taiwan and U.S.-Taiwan relations. I am not picking sides in the upcoming elections,” Glaser said.

Taipei City government spokesman Liu Yi-ting (劉奕霆) confirmed on Dec. 28 that Ko is scheduled to visit the U.S. in March but the exact date and itinerary of the visit has not yet been settled.

By Chen Yi-hsuan and Elizabeth Hsu