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Taipei-Shanghai forum set for July 2 (update)

2017/06/19 15:32:13

CNA file photo

Taipei, June 19 (CNA) A Taipei-Shanghai forum is set to be held in Shanghai on July 2, with the theme of "healthy city," a Taipei spokesman said Monday.

Liu Yi-ting (劉奕霆) said that Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong (應勇) will represent the two cities at the forum.

He said the forum will center on four topics -- community health, environmental protection, smart city and public service, and young start-ups.

The two sides will also sign a memorandum of understanding covering exchanges and cooperation in four aspects, including exchanges between the University of Taipei and Shanghai University, between Taipei Nehui District and Shanghai's Pudong New Area, the promotion of basketball, and consumer rights protection.

In addition, both sides have arranged for senior high school students from the two cities to perform street dance to help enhance understanding and foster friendship.

There had been doubt that the forum would be held as scheduled in light of the current chilly relations between Taiwan and China.

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, official exchanges between the two sides have stalled, due mainly to her administration's refusal to accept China's pre-set conditions for such interaction.

Relations between the two sides have soured even more with the recent spate of incidents showing that China has stepped up its campaign to squeeze Taiwan in the international community.

These include China's detention of a Taiwanese human rights activist since March 19, Taiwan's exclusion from the annual World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, as an observer in May, and Panama's switching of diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China last week.

This will be the second time Ko has attended the forum and the first visit by a Taipei mayor since the power change of the government on May 20, 2016.

The forum has alternated between Taipei and Shanghai since 2010. Last year's forum was held in Taipei, with Sha Hailin (沙海林), director of the Shanghai Municipal Committee United Front Work Department, heading the delegation from the Chinese side.

In an interview with the media on June 9, Ko said that there will be goodwill if there are exchanges, and that goodwill helps assuage the cross-strait stalemate.

He urged China not to give up on what he described as "the 99.5 percent goodwill of Taiwan because of the 0.5 percent."

Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光), a spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, responded by saying that "we are open to and positive about cross-strait city exchanges, so long as there is correct recognition on the nature of cross-strait relations and city exchanges between the two sides."

Taipei City government deputy spokesperson Chen Ssu-yu (陳思宇) said Taipei adheres to the principles of "equality and dignity" when coordinating with Shanghai on matters related to the forum.

Asked if Ko will meet privately with Ying, a protégé of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Chen said all itineraries will be open and there will be an announcement after details of the forum are worked out.

As the forum will be an exchange platform for the two cities, Ko will not travel to Beijing to promote the summer Universiade, which is scheduled to be held in Taipei Aug. 18-30.

Chen also said that July 2 was the time agreed upon by both sides, adding that they have not deliberately avoided July 1, the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China.

(By Chang Shu-ling, Liang Pei-chi and Lilian Wu)