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Taiwanese group urges U.S. to scrutinize Taipei mayor

2019/03/19 14:29:52

Washington, March 18 (CNA) A Taiwanese-American group has urged the United States to monitor Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je's (柯文哲) current visit to the U.S. and be cautious in approving future visits because of the damage he has done to U.S.-Taiwan relations.

In a letter to American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty dated March 17, the same day Ko arrived in the U.S. on a nine-day trip, the Taiwan Association of America voiced concern over Ko's recent negative remarks on U.S.-Taiwan relations.

It also contended that Ko has moved closer to the agenda of the Chinese Communist Party, which it said has not escaped Beijing's notice.

"The more pleased they are with Mayor Ko's ideology, the more concerned we are as American citizens," the letter said.

It urged Moriarty "to tread carefully when approving future visits from Mayor Ko as well as exercise more caution in regard to monitoring his upcoming visit."

Containing Mayor Ko's "negative views" on U.S.-Taiwan relations is in the "mutual interests of the two countries, the letter said, citing the impact of "his flagrantly insensitive pattern of speaking without consideration for political correctness.

The group, which described itself as "one of the biggest and oldest Taiwanese American organizations in the U.S., took particular issue with Ko's characterization of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship as a "transactional one."

Among the examples cited by the letter were his interview with Bloomberg in October 2018, in which Ko described Taiwan as "only a product on the shelf," and remarks in January 2019 when he portrayed U.S. military support for Taiwan as selling it a useless flat drill bit.

"We were extremely frustrated to see the mayor of our capital furthering the Beijing government's united front agenda and questioning the U.S. government's dedication to defending Taiwan against Chinese aggression for decades," the letter said.

In a telephone interview after the letter was made public, the group's president, Jeng Shaw-fang (鄭劭方), accused Ko, who is eyeing a run for president in 2020, of sacrificing Taiwanese interests for his own election gains and called the behavior "unacceptable."

Ko's negative comments on U.S.-Taiwan relations have dealt a blow to the traditionally mutually beneficial ties between the two sides, he said.

The decision to draft the letter came during the association's two-day meeting over the weekend when the presidents of all of the group's branches reached a consensus to write to the AIT chairman, Jeng said.

It was the second time the Taiwanese group publicly expressed its opposition to Ko's visit to the United States, after saying on March 9 that it would not welcome the mayor or meet with him during the trip because of what it said was his pro-China and anti-U.S. stance.

Ko left for the U.S. on March 16 and his visit, which will take him to New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Boston, and he will return to Taiwan on March 24.

Established in 1970, the Taiwanese Association of America is dedicated to promoting the best interests and welfare of the Taiwanese community in the United States.

(By Chiang Ching-yeh and Chung Yu-chen)