TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has said the Taipei-Shanghai forum will be held virtually later this year amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and strained cross-strait ties.
The mayor on Wednesday (July 8) reaffirmed that the Taipei City Government will host the annual twin-city forum, which is seen as a major platform for exchanges between Taipei and Shanghai, virtually, after some delay caused by the coronavirus. The online forum will prevent “a lot of awkward situations” and inconvenience in terms of organizing the event, he said, adding that he is “under huge pressure.”
With tensions rising between Taiwan and China in recent years and Beijing’s implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong, the mayor claimed he may be accused of siding with the Chinese government for hosting the forum by his political opponents. Recent surveys have shown that more than 80 percent of Taiwanese oppose Hong Kong's national security law and that Taiwanese identity has hit a record high despite growing pressure from Beijing.
Ko said the disputes between Taiwanese authorities and their Chinese counterparts will not be resolved soon, but that he believed both sides should maintain exchanges and exhibit a gesture of goodwill. He said it is not right for the two countries to be so hostile to each other while still seeking close economic ties.
The mayor did not reveal exactly when the forum, which usually takes place in June, will be held, saying only that the preliminaries are more difficult than previously expected. “We cannot use Huawei [softwares], and they don’t want to use Google,” said Ko, hinting that cybersecurity issues have posed a challenge for both sides and that negotiations are still ongoing.
The Taipei-Shanghai forum has been held annually since 2010. The meeting, though largely focused on city governance and cooperation between the two cities, also touches upon cross-strait issues.