Ko did not buckle to Beijing's pressure to call Tsai 'leader'

Taipei's Mayor Ko Wen-je rejects China's request to refer to President Tsai Ing-wen as 'leader' of Taiwan at Universiade

Mayor Ko Wen-je at press event for Universiade. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taipei's Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said that he rejected a Chinese official's request to refer to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as "leader" and not allow to her to appear on stage during the opening address of the upcoming Summer Universiade games.

When speaking with the media after his controversial visit to Shanghai on Friday, Ko said a Chinese official had visited Taiwan in April and asked that Tsai not speak onstage during the opening ceremony speech for the 2017 Summer Universiade, which will begin on August 18 in Taipei. To which Ko said, "If she (Tsai) doesn't take the stage, I'll leave the stage (step down from power)."

The Chinese official then asked that instead of using the title "president" he use the term "leader." In response, Ko said he refused and insisted "it must be 'president.'" He said for this reason, it is still not known whether China will take part in the opening ceremonies. 

Ko said that he told the International University Sports Federation (FISU) that Tsai must be referred to as "president," and that when holding the games in Taiwan, they must be under the principle of equal dignity, and "The Universiade in Taiwan has a certain principle."

When asked by reporters if he would change his stance after attending the Shanghai forum, he said he would not, and emphasized that he told the chairman of the FISU that after the games conclude in Taiwan he should pass the message to Beijing.

China announced in May that it would not participate in the teach competition at the Taipei Universiade, but its athletes may still participate in individual events. The deadline to register for individual events is July 19 and none have signed up so far.