Taipei Mayor begins trip to Shanghai

Taipei Mayor begins trip to Shanghai
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je and a delegation of approximately 30 city officials yesterday began a three-day trip to Shanghai to continue bilateral co-operation and exchanges between the cities, where items such as youth entrepreneurship and medical affairs are planned to be discussed.

Ko is expected to meet his counterpart, Shanghai mayor Yang Xiong, with their discussions focused on increasing mutual participation in each other's events. In contrast to previously held forums between the two cities, corporate participation was not emphasised prior to the meeting.

Four major cooperative agreements between mainland China's largest municipality and Taiwan's capital will be finalized, including electronic receipts, civil servant development and district-to-district co-operation between Shanghai and Taipei's local administrative centres.

Ko is also scheduled to visit a World War II memorial, the site of the Chinese Communist Party's first national congress, a Shanghai hospital established using Taiwanese capital following the landmark Economic Framework Cooperation Agreement (ECFA) in 2010 and a business enclave in the city's Hongqiao area.

Ko arrived at Taipei Songshan International Airport toting his own luggage and opted instead to clear customs with ordinary passengers rather than express clearance for public officials.

While fielding questions from reporters before his departure, he brushed aside a question pertaining to the possibility that officials in mainland China would attempt to address him as the mayor of "Taipei, Taiwan, China."

"I will not address hypotheticals," he said in response. Upon assuming office in late 2014, Ko stirred speculation about the future of the Taipei-Shanghai forums because he did not accept the "1992 Consensus" in which both mainland China and Taiwan agree to disagree on the interpretation of "one China."

Ko shifted his stance this year when he added in an Aug. 3 interview with Chinese state media that he "respects and understands" China's position on the "1992 Consensus." He also alluded to acknowledging the role of the "1992 Consensus" in bringing city-to-city exchanges that could be pursued pragmatically in bringing benefits to both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The mayor's spokesperson Lin Ho-ming denied that much of Ko's Shanghai itinerary was closed to the public due to his propensity for making off-the-cuff remarks. Lin reiterated that cross-city exchanges meant that the thrust of Ko's visit would be centred on his meetings with Shanghai mayor Yang.

The forum was launched by Ko's predecessor, Hau Lung-bin in 2010 to promote city-to-city exchanges leading to Shanghai's participation in the Taipei International Flora Exposition later that year.

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