Opinion: Where is Mayor Ko Wen-je’s backbone?

Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je, and the flags of El Salvador and Taiwan (photos by Wikimedia Commons and CNA)

Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je, and the flags of El Salvador and Taiwan (photos by Wikimedia Commons and CNA)

The Central American Republic of El Salvador has broken off diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (i.e. Taiwan). Taiwan’s government used to make an effort to maintain relations with El Salvador, but beginning last year, that country’s ruling party began requesting a considerable amount of funds to support its development. President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration judged the development project to be unfair, as it would threaten Taiwan to fall into debt, so the island nation never agreed to the funding requests.

In addition, El Salvador faces elections with the ruling party performing poorly in the opinion polls, so it also approached China, and Beijing used the opportunity to upset the diplomatic relationship between El Salvador and Taiwan.

Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was asked whether he thought China had purposefully provoked the ending of official relations between El Salvador and Taiwan.

Ko said it was only to be expected, the United States had been pressuring China, so China pressured Taiwan. During the interview, Ko called out that “Beijing should adapt its own strategic principles, and should not allow nationalism to rise, cross-strait relations should be considered under the U.S.-China framework.”

China’s CCTV recently broadcast a high-profile report about Mayor Ko Wen-je, introducing his re-election campaign strategy and how he is attracting younger voters. This obviously represents official Chinese government (media) acceptance of Ko.

In addition, Ko yesterday discussed his previous statement about “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are one family” with People First Party leader James Soong, even leading to speculation about a “croissant ticket,” a joint presidential run by Ko and Soong, with “Ko-Soong” sounding like the Mandarin Chinese word for croissant.

Now that El Salvador and Taiwan have broken off diplomatic relations, no direct criticism of China’s bullying of Taiwan has been heard from Ko, only a bombastic “call” on “Beijing” to “adapt its own strategic principles” and “not allow nationalism to rise.”

But what really leaves us sighing, is that at this time, Ko has not contemplated the issue as a Taiwanese, so no wonder that exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui (郭文貴) directly argued that Ko’s election as mayor of Taipei City has been a tragedy for Taiwan.

As Taiwan and El Salvador have broken off diplomatic relations, Ko cannot be unaware that it is China conspiring behind the scenes to exploit opportunities, yet he still does not want to say anything critical of China, so does that mean that he has more hidden calculations?