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Cross-city forum not yet threatened by Ko's remarks: scholar

Taipei/Shanghai, Feb. 2 (CNA) Beijing was only testing the waters when it criticized Taipei's mayor through a Communist Party-affiliated newspaper, and it is still "too early" to say an annual cross-strait city forum will be suspended, a Taiwanese scholar said Monday. Chang Wu-yueh(???), a professor at Tamkang University, was responding to an editorial in the Global Times that bashed Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je for advocating a "two countries, one system" formula to guide ties across the Taiwan Strait in an interview with U.S. journal Foreign Policy last week. The medial outlet suggested that China could consider suspending the Taipei-Shanghai City Forum or boycotting the 2017 World University Games being held in Taipei because of the remarks.
Ko's predecessor recognized the "1992 consensus" and if Ko were to ignore this political bottom line, there would be no political basis for continuing to hold the city forum, the Global Times said.
The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit agreement between the two sides on the existence of only one China, with the two sides free to interpret its meaning. "China could consider suspending the forum if necessary," the Chinese government mouthpiece commented. Chang said the comment was simply Beijing testing the waters to let outsiders know that China is indeed considering the idea, but it did not mean that "it has set the official tone." He said that from China's perspective, Ko's remarks were a negative factor in whether the forum should continue to be held, but he did not believe Beijing would make a rash decision. In addition, Ko only assumed his post in late December and enjoys strong public support, and if Beijing were to get tough on him now, it would go against the Taiwanese people's will, Chang said, adding that in any case holding the city forum was not a pressing issue.
A scholar based in Shanghai said on Monday, however, that there was very little possibility of continued sponsoring of the forum, saying that China could not accept exchanges between "cities of two countries." Ni Yongjie (???), deputy director the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies, said Ko's previous remarks that he did not know the "1992 consensus" were dishonest.
He believed that Ko sees the concept as "two countries," similar to the idea of special "state-to-state" relations backed by former presidents Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian. Ko's open statement on "two countries, one system" would have a negative impact on cross-strait relations and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, Ni argued. He said that if Ko still hoped that Beijing will support Taipei's activities in 2016 and 2017, "it would be very na鴳e." Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong (??) said on Jan. 29 that Shanghai and Taipei had held five such forums, and that he would like continued exchanges based on the "1992 consensus." (By Yin Chun-chieh, Eva Feng and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-09-26 00:44 GMT+08:00