Taiwan needs to balance relations with China, U.S.: Ko

10/09/2019 03:30 PM
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Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲)
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲)

Taipei, Oct. 9 (CNA) Taiwan needs to find a balance in its relationship with China and the United States instead of depending too much on either one, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) told CNA during an interview on Tuesday.

Asked to elaborate on his China and U.S. policies and by extension those of his recently established Taiwan People's Party (TPP), Ko told reporters that he wants to maintain friendly ties with both Washington and Beijing rather than over-relying on either side.

He criticized President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for relying too much on the U.S. and Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate, for being too China-friendly.

Ko said he believes that the U.S. will continue to protect Taiwan no matter which party wins the 2020 presidential election.

Meanwhile, trying to maintain more cordial relations with China will give Taiwan more space in the international arena.

The Taipei mayor said he chooses to not overly criticize the Chinese Communist Party "to keep Taiwan alive."

President Tsai's continuous harsh remarks on China are made "merely to garner more votes" in the 2020 elections, Ko said.

Under Tsai, Taiwan's government and its Chinese counterpart have failed to establish an effective communication channel, resulting in an impasse in cross-strait relations since May 2016, he added.

Ko also reiterated that taking a more neutral stance toward China does not mean accepting Beijing's "one country, two systems" formula as applied to Taiwan.

Very few in Taiwan are willing to accept that formula, other than a very small number of pro-unification activists who represent about 3 percent of the total population, especially after seeing the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, he said.

Originally a renowned doctor, Ko ran as an independent in the 2014 Taipei mayoral election which he won with the backing of the DPP.

However, he has gradually drifted apart from the party which criticized him for his China-friendly remarks, most recently in July 2019, when Ko said "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family."

The mayor had been widely believed to be considering a bid for the presidency until he announced in September that he would not run. Instead he established the TPP and nominated a number of legislative candidates to maintain his influence in Taiwanese politics.

Ko described the party as a third option for voters other than the pro-unification KMT and pro-independence DPP camps.

Commenting on his current relationship with the DPP, Ko told CNA that the ruling party has "delusions of persecution" as some of its members continue to believe he plans to run for the presidency in 2020.

Even if he does not run next year, many in the DPP still view Ko as a major threat for the presidency in 2024.

Meanwhile, commenting on the TPP's future plans, Ko said the party has already nominated eight legislative candidates for the 2020 legislative election.

Current rules stipulate that a newly-formed political party has to nominate at least 10 national legislative candidates around Taiwan before it can submit a list of 34 legislative-at-large candidates.

Ko admitted the TPP may only win two or three seats in the highly competitive Jan. 11 legislative elections that are to be held on the same day as the presidential election.

(By Liang Pei-chi, Chen Yi-hsuan and Joseph Yeh)


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