WASHINGTON (CNA) — The Taiwanese Association of America said on March 8 that it does not welcome Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) planned visit to the United States later this month and will not meet with him during the trip, due to what the group characterized as Ko’s pro-China and anti-U.S. stance. In a statement, the association said its focus is on improving

Taiwan-U.S. relations and as such it strongly disagrees with Ko’s pro-China and anti-U.S. words and actions. In a free, open and democratic era, the association welcomes anyone who wants to carry forward Taiwan’s democracy, the statement said.

However, after much reflection, the association has decided not to welcome this former friend and must adhere to its values in a volatile political landscape.

According to the statement, Ko’s pro-China and anti-U.S. stance runs counter to the association’s core values and the friendship between Taiwan and the U.S. and could undermine bilateral relations.

Therefore, all chapters of the association decided not to extend any support to Ko nor receive him during his upcoming visit, the statement said.

The association also called on Taiwanese compatriots in the U.S. not to receive “opportunistic politicians.” Its grievances with Ko include expressing admiration for late Chinese leaders Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) and expressing disdain for Taiwan government’s promotion of transitional justice.

The statement also criticized Ko for saying “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family” and “cross-strait relations are like first being friends and then getting married” as China ramps up pressure on Taiwan and squeezes its international space while refusing to renounce the use of force.

The group also took issue with Ko’s recent remarks that “Taiwan’s army couldn’t last more than two days against China” and slammed the Taipei mayor for calling Taiwan “just a product on a shelf” for U.S. President Donald Trump.

The statement indicated that the association once had a close relationship with Ko and members previously believed he offered a crucial opportunity for politics in Taiwan.

However, many members are bitterly disappointed and even indignant about his changes in position over the past four years, it added. Ko is scheduled to visit the U.S. from March 16-24, during which time he will travel to New York, Washington, Atlanta and Boston.

In Washington, Ko is expected to visit the U.S. Capitol Building and deliver a speech at the Heritage Foundation.

Meanwhile in Taipei, asked by the press about the statement, Ko said: “it is odd that (the association) issued the statement while deciding not to receive (me).”

By Chiang Ching-yeh and Evelyn Kao