Ko meets with head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je has met with the head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Zhijun on Monday afternoon in Shanghai. The Taiwan Affairs Office is the top Chinese body in charge of the country's Taiwan policy in the absence of official ties.

Ko traveled to Shanghai for the twin-city forum between Taipei and Shanghai on Sunday. He is the first chief of a major Taiwan municipality to travel to China since bilateral relations began to cool a year ago.

The city government did not announce Ko's plans to meet with Zhang until Monday morning. When asked why the meeting was not announced earlier, Ko said that Zhang had a busy schedule and that he was deferring to the arrangements made by his hosts.

The media were allowed to film preliminary remarks from the two officials before they headed into a closed-door meeting that was not open to the public.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said on Sunday that she hoped Ko will accurately express the position of the Taiwanese people.

Before the meeting, Ko said that he would say whatever he needed to say, but that he would avoid ideological discussions if possible. The mayor said that the main focus of his trip is exchanges between Taipei and Shanghai, including exchanges between civic groups, private companies and youth groups. Mayor Ko said that the first step is to express goodwill.

The mayor also responded to criticism of his remarks on Sunday that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one family. He downplayed the criticism, urging people not to read too much into his words. He said the beauty of a democracy is that everyone is free to express their own opinions.

Source: Radio Taiwan International