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Ko says Taiwan should be 'recognized by world' despite China stance

Taiwan president should not be White House servant or US governor: Ko

Ko Wen-je at press briefing on July 12. 

Ko Wen-je at press briefing on July 12.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Wednesday (July 12) wrote on Twitter that Taiwan should be "recognized by the whole world" and said that the country's president should not be a U.S. governor or the White House's servant.

At a campaign rally event in Yilan County on Monday (July 10), Taiwan Vice President and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said, "When the president of Taiwan can enter the White House, the political goal we are pursuing will have been achieved," reported Storm Media. During a press briefing while visiting Kaohsiung on Wednesday (July 12), Ko was asked whether he disagreed with Lai's claim that reaching the White House is the ultimate goal for a Taiwanese president.

Ko said that the president of Taiwan should "lead Taiwan to the world." He stressed that the goal is to serve as Taiwan's president "not to run for U.S. governor, let alone apply for work as a domestic helper at the White House."

Ko said the U.S. is an important ally, "but let's not make it seem like we're compromising our national dignity."

On a Wednesday afternoon Facebook post, Ko tagged Lai and continued to attack the vice-president's remark. He then cited President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as saying on July 6 that, "No matter who Taiwan's next president will be, the Taiwan-U.S. relationship will continue to deepen."

He argued that if this were the case, "How would the election be a choice between Zhongnanhai (residence of China's leaders) and the White House?" Ko's comment was in reference to criticism that he has an overly friendly China policy.

Ko then took a swipe at Lai's comment that he would be willing to dine with Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) by saying, "When you want to have dinner with the leader of the other side, Xi Jinping, will others think you represent 'Zhongnanhai?'"

At around 8 p.m. on Twitter, Ko again criticized Lai's White House comment by saying "That's not enough." He then added, "Our ultimate goal should be for Taiwan to be recognized by the whole world, and not by a country only."

The comment stirred controversy because he has generally been advocating closer ties with China and recently proposed revisiting the controversial cross-strait services and goods trade agreement, which prompted protests in 2014 over fears that it would harm Taiwan's sovereignty. However, the wording "recognized by the whole world" sounds as though he is advocating independence for Taiwan.

His tweet left some pundits wondering about its true meaning. Journalist Fausto Chou (周子愉) asked under the tweet whether Ko meant that he had the ability to enable Taiwan to join the U.N.

Chou pointed out the inconsistencies in Ko's foreign policy statements, "On the one hand, you talk about increasing goodwill with the CCP, and on the other hand, you advocate that Taiwan should be recognized by the whole world, is it possible for this to co-exist?"