Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

U.K. minister 'learns something' after Ko's comment on gift

U.K. minister 'learns something' after Ko's comment on gift

Taipei, Jan. 26 (CNA) Baroness Susan Kramer, the U.K. minister of state for transport, said Monday she regretted giving a watch to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???) after learning it may not have been appropriate in Chinese culture and Ko seemed to disparage it. "I'm sorry. We learn something new each day. I had no idea a gift like this could be seen as anything other than positive. In the U.K. a watch is precious -- because nothing is more important than time," she said in a statement. Baroness Kramer, who is visiting Taiwan for discussions on transportation and trade, presented a pocket watch to Ko, who in return presented the minister a miniature model of Taipei 101, the nation's tallest skyscraper. Giving clocks or watches as gifts is traditionally seen as taboo in Chinese culture because the phrase "giving a clock" (??) is read the same as "bidding farewell" to the deceased (??) at a funeral. Asked by the media if he felt uncomfortable with the gift, Ko said he was not worried, but then said: "I can just regift it to someone or take it to a scrap metal dealer and sell it for cash." In her statement, Baroness Kramer explained that the watch came from the House of Lords and is only accessible to members of the U.K.'s upper parliament. "It is a very unique item," she said. Ties between both sides seemed unaffected, however, as the minister also said in the statement that it was "a huge honour to meet Mayor Ko" and that "we look forward to working with him and his team in Taipei." (By Hsieh Chia-chen and Lee Hsin-Yin)


Updated : 2021-09-28 03:14 GMT+08:00