Ko Wen-je: No closed-door meetings between Taipei and China

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je addressed the question of Taipei City’s policies toward China in a press conference following a town hall meeting Tuesday. Ko explained that the government is forming a working group which will handle China affairs on behalf of the city in the future. He added that Jao Ching-yu, the former Deputy Director of Taipei’s International Affairs Committee, will serve as the official “pipeline” for the city in its dealings with Chinese counterparts. He stressed that communications and contact between the two sides will be as open and transparent as possible.

While admitting that sometimes there is a need for discreetness in negotiations and discussions with other entities, Ko said that when everyone says something is secret, is when problems begin to arise. "Wasn’t that the case with Chang Hsien-yao?" he asked, referring to the former Deputy Chair of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) who resigned amid accusations he had handed over information to Chinese officials before meetings.

Ko said that the working group, which is to be reorganized and will answer directly to him as mayor, will hold its first meeting sometime next week.

Chairman Chen Ming-shiun of the city’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission explained that while the working group responsible for coordinating relations between the city and China was formerly subject to his commission, it would now report directly to the mayor.

Storm Media had claimed earlier on its website that the working group would be composed of a number of cross-strait experts including former MAC chairmen Su Chi, a member of the KMT, and Chen Min-tong of the DPP.

Hua Chih-hao, an aide to Su Chi, pointed out Monday that Su had recently attended a banquet hosted by the Formosa Newsletter where Ko was seated to his right. Hua said the two chatted briefly, mostly about topics ranging from liver cancer to surgery techniques, but did not discuss any other matters.

Taipei City Government spokesman Sydney Lin said afterwards that the organization and membership of the working group would be different from the office that operated under former Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, adding only that further details will be made available next week.