Taipei mayor owns up to 'colonisation' gaffe in Foreign Policy article

Taipei mayor owns up to 'colonisation' gaffe in Foreign Policy article

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday admitted that he did use the word "colonisation" in a recent interview with a US-based magazine that courted controversy for his view of Asian history.

"I did say 'the longer the colonisation' in Chinese (in the interview)," Ko told reporters yesterday. He said that he had not disputed the accuracy of the report, but was "blaming myself for not making my point clear in my discourse."

Ko's comment came after American bi-monthly journal Foreign Policy responded to the mayor's earlier suggestion that he was misquoted during an interview with the publication.

"We stand by our reporting on this piece and the quotes as they appear," David Wertime, senior editor of Foreign Policy was quoted by Apple Daily as saying.

In the journal's web article, published on Jan. 29, writer Grace Tsoi claimed that during an interview with Foreign Affairs on Jan. 20, Ko had said "the longer the colonisation, the more advanced a place is," as a response to the journal's question on Asian history and colonisation.

As written in the online article, Ko was also quoted as saying "There's nothing wrong with officials taking the subway. Why is this unusual? So people talked about 'one country, two systems,' but maybe we should talk about 'two countries, one system' instead. We should try to narrow the gap," in response to his MRT snapshot going viral in mainland China.

Ko's comments, especially the former, have garnered the mayor more media attention on matters besides his role as the first Taipei mayor independent from a political party.

Mainland Chinese media have generally criticised both responses, prompting local media to seek clarification from the mayor himself.

During an interview, the mayor said that he was misquoted on the question of colonisation by Foreign Policy magazine. Ko stated that instead of what the journal had published, he had meant that the advancement of civilization is a long process, and that the longer a civilization has interacted with modern civilization, the more cultured a civilization would be.

Instead, the published quote from the journal has made it seem as though he had touted the benefits of colonisation, Ko said, which wasn't his intention. The mayor also added that he has learned his lesson and will insist that foreign-language media employ qualified translators in the future to guarantee an accurate interpretation.

Journal Insists On Accuracy

Reportedly, an experienced editor at Foreign Policy responded to local media, insisting that the article and all of the quotes from the mayor have been presented accurately.

Former Executive Yuan spokesperson Hu Yu-wei took to his social media yesterday to appeal to the Taipei City Government on the ongoing issue.

In a Facebook post, Hu said that in the spirit of his political aim to establish a transparent government, the mayor ought to reveal the recording of the interview or ask the journal to reveal their recording so as to resolve the ongoing disagreement.

Hu also added that the Taipei Government needs to abide by standard operating procedures, and they should have had a spokesperson or public relations staff present to control and record the entire interview. Such precautions would have ensured that misunderstandings were avoided, Hu concluded.

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