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AIT questions Ko on whether China was involved in KMT-TPP deal

TPP leader replies Taiwan is a small country with too many 'fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law'

Ko Wen-je suddenly takes phone call while giving a speech on stage on Nov. 15. 

Ko Wen-je suddenly takes phone call while giving a speech on stage on Nov. 15.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) chair and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) claimed the Amerian Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Wednesday (Nov. 15) called him to ask if China was involved in his party's deal with the Kuomingtang (KMT) to join forces in the presidential election.

The KMT and TPP said Ko and KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) had agreed on a six-point deal to determine which of them would run as the presidential candidate on a combined ticket, among other forms of cooperation. In an interview on the program, "Face News," broadcast that evening, Ko revealed that the AIT, the defacto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, asked him to "explain whether China is involved in the blue and white agreement."

He then laughed, and the other guests on the show could also be seen laughing. The host Hsieh Chen-wu (謝震武) incredulously asked, "Really?"

Ko confirmed the phone call took place and the AIT had asked the TPP's secretary general to explain the situation. Hsieh then asked, "AIT was that direct, it asked you directly?"

Ko then lamented that this is the dilemma Taiwan faces as a small country with too many "fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law." He said Taiwan is caught in the middle of "the struggle between big powers."

When asked whether such a phone call was made, an AIT spokesperson did not respond directly to the question but said the U.S. has great confidence in Taiwan's democratic process and is convinced that Taiwanese voters can choose the next leader without external influence, reported UDN.

The spokesperson also reiterated "the U.S. will not choose sides in Taiwan's election." No matter which political party is in power, the U.S. policy toward Taiwan will not change, said the spokesperson.

The U.S. has full confidence in Taiwan's democratic system and electoral process, said the institute. The U.S. supports Taiwan's vibrant democracy and looks forward to working with any leader elected in 2024, it stated.

During a press conference on Thursday (Nov. 16), Ko said that since February, the TPP has been in contact with the AIT every week at various levels such as director, deputy director, and political section, per CNA. He also assured AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk that Taiwan-U.S. relations would follow the principle of "no surprise," both during his visit to the U.S. and in discussions with high-ranking U.S. officials, pledging not to introduce unexpected elements.

Ko said that he had informed the AIT that if he had any questions, he would call and ask, and he would notify them if there were any new developments within the TPP. After the KMT and TPP agreement was reached on Wednesday, Ko said he knew that the AIT would ask, "What are you doing?"

From the AIT's standpoint, it is normal to make such a call, said Ko because the U.S. is an important ally of Taiwan and it is essential to maintain good relations and communication to avoid misunderstandings.