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Proposed group draws flak for China connection

2017/07/11 17:53:11

Ko Wen-je (柯文哲)

Taipei, July 11 (CNA) A local official in Taipei raised some eyebrows recently by starting an association of village and ward chiefs that will engage in exchanges in China amid cooling relations between Taiwan and China.

Chin Rung-hui (勤榮輝), an elected ward chief in Taipei's northern Beitou District, plans to set up an association consisting of neighborhood chiefs around Taiwan.

The planned organization will carry out exchanges with China by organizing trips there, according to media reports.

Chin called the group he started the Chinese Taipei General Association of Village and Ward Chiefs, using the designation that Taiwan has adopted under pressure from Beijing to be able to take part in international events such as the Olympic Games and meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, according to the reports.

The organizer has been criticized for using the name "Chinese Taipei" and accused of being a pawn in China's efforts to divide Taiwanese society.

Chin, however, denied on Tuesday that the planned association could become a platform for China to carry out united front work in Taiwan.

Chin said he would file an application with the city government to form an association under the name of the Taipei City General Association of Ward Chiefs instead of the Chinese Taipei General Association of Village and Ward Chiefs.

The organization is aimed at serving residents at the grassroots level, promoting the sharing of information among wards and organizing tours of Taiwan, China and other parts of the world to facilitate exchanges.

The exchanges will not be restricted to only China, Chin added.

A committee of 30 people responsible for preparing for the establishment of the association has already been formed, according to Chin.

Commenting on the matter, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said Tuesday that while the goal of China's united front strategy is unification with Taiwan, it's difficult to say "who will be unified by whom."

Ko said that engaging in exchanges with China is a good thing, and that Taiwan should use its soft power in developing cross-strait relations.

Noting that Taiwan is unlikely to use hard power to deal with cross-strait ties, the Taipei mayor said Taiwan's advantage hinges on its soft power, and it should use this advantage to persuade the other side to accept its concepts.

Chin's proposal came in the wake of several city mayors, county magistrates and ward chiefs visiting China to seek opportunities for exchanges. In July last year, for instance, 113 borough chiefs took a six-day trip to Shanghai.

(By Liang Pei-chi and Evelyn Kao)
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