Taipei mayor backs down, Shanghai forum to go on

TAIPEI • A forum between the mayors of the Taiwanese capital of Taipei and the Chinese city of Shanghai will take place after all, Taipei said, suggesting that a dispute over the Taipei mayor's refusal to endorse Beijing's"one China" policy has fizzled out.

Taiwan has been holding the annual "Two Cities" forum with China's financial capital since 2010 but this year's meeting in Shanghai was in doubt because Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je repeatedly refused to recognise the "one China, different interpretation" model.

Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang fled to the island after losing the civil war against China's communists in 1949. China has since viewed self-ruled Taiwan, across the narrow Taiwan Strait, as a renegade province and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control.

China's Xinhua news agency said on Monday that Mr Ko told media he "understands and respects" the "one China" principle.

A spokesman for the Taipei government confirmed Mr Ko used those words and said he added: "But I think my view also has another positive meaning... As long as it is good for cross-strait peace development, I will not reject it."

Beijing insists that all countries and international organisations recognise "one China", leaving Taiwan, which goes under the official title of "Republic of China", with just a handful of diplomatic allies.

Mr Ko will visit Shanghai from Aug 17 to 19 to discuss culture, intelligent cities, community healthcare and young entrepreneurship, the Taipei city government said in a statement yesterday.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has signed trade and economic pacts with China, though there have been no political talks and suspicions persist on both sides.

Young Taiwanese activists have tied themselves up in chains, blocked mountain roads, scaled fences and thrown red paint balloons in a recent wave of anti-China sentiment, especially over new school textbooks which they say are slanted towards a "one China" view of history.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2015, with the headline 'Taipei mayor backs down, Shanghai forum to go on'. Print Edition | Subscribe