Taipei mayor to attend forum in China with Shanghai mayor after row fizzles out

Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je talking to students as they protest at the entrance of Taiwan's Ministry of Education on July 31, 2015.
Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je talking to students as they protest at the entrance of Taiwan's Ministry of Education on July 31, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A forum between the mayors of the Taiwan capital of Taipei and the Chinese city of Shanghai will take place after all, Taipei said on Wednesday, suggesting 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 has repeatedly refused to recognise Beijing's view of "one China".

Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party 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 Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je told media he "understands and respects" the "one China" principle.

A spokesman for the Taipei government confirmed Ko used those words and said Ko 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 Aug 19 to discuss culture, intelligent cities, community healthcare and young entrepreneurship, the Taipei city government said in a statement.

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

Young Taiwan 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.