Ko’s novelty is a welcome twist
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times

In a recent interview with the US

magazine Foreign Policy, Taipei

Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) proposed a

new concept of “two countries, one

system” to resolve the bilateral

relationship between Taiwan and

China. The novelty of the idea

surprised the blue, green and red


The Chinese Nationalist Party’s

(KMT) politicians reacted in their

typical manner, by first

threatening the public saying that

it must be endorsed by China, while

failing to give any legitimate

reasons to back that point of view.

The Democratic Progressive Party

(DPP) was also afraid to give away

its position too easily. Ko is a

man of his word: Not only does he

go beyond the pan-blue and pan-

green camps, he also reaches beyond

the red camp.

First, the New Party in Taiwan is

considered part of the red camp,

because it accepts the “one

country, two systems” formula and

promotes immediate unification to

realize the goal of making the

People’s Republic of China (PRC)

the sole representative of “one


The KMT often upholds “Chinese

Taipei” without mentioning its

status as a country, while the

green camp advocates a sovereign

and independent state. Despite the

DPP’s recognition of the Republic

of China (ROC) as the “status quo,

” deep-green supporters advocate

building a Republic of Taiwan. Ko,

however, advocates Taiwan as an

independent and sovereign state,

putting aside the name of the

country for the time being.

Second, the pan-blue, pan-green and

red camps all focus on the name of

the country, but Ko focuses on the

system itself. His “one system”

of course refers to a democratic

one, because he is an elected mayor

under a democratic system. Even if

China resists a democratic system,

it is difficult to oppose democracy

publicly, and Beijing may simply

reiterate that this is not in

conformity with China’s actual

conditions. However, the Chinese

people should have the final say

when it comes to the question of

whether democracy conforms to China

’s actual conditions or not. Does

China dare hold a referendum on the


To sum up, Ko’s proposal gives

consideration to both national

sovereignty and to the political

system, and this is perhaps the

best way for handling the bilateral

relationship between the two sides

of the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan’s

national security can only be

protected under his “two

countries, one system.” As

predicted by Ko, China was not too

pleased with his remarks, and

Beijing’s mouthpiece the Global

Times even threatened a boycott of

the Taipei-Shanghai City Forum (雙

城論壇) and the 2017 Universiade.

That would really be two very

welcome things.

The twin-city forum is an unequal

forum, because Taipei is the

capital of Taiwan and Shanghai is

just a Chinese city. This

humiliating decision was made by

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)

during his term as mayor of Taipei.

A Chinese boycott really would be

the best solution, since that would

mean not having to listen to China

’s attempts to promote its united

-front strategy.

As for the Universiade, Ko wanted

to cancel the event anyway to save

a huge budget that could be spent

on numerous issues directly related

to the welfare of Taipei’s

residents. Still, it would have

been difficult to change the

decision to host the sports event

since it was a pledge to the

international community.

If China were to boycott the event,

Ko should release a statement to

announce that his city might not

host the event, since it would be

meaningless to do so following the

boycott of the world’s most

populated country, thus placing

pressure on Beijing. As for any

Taipei officials and businesspeople

hoping to profit from the event,

perhaps they should file a claim

for compensation with Chinese

President Xi Jinping (習近平).

Ko is not the president, and his

ideas cannot be carried out

throughout the whole nation, but

they have indeed spread outside of

Taipei, and this has opened up new

opportunities for the DPP in its

contacts with China. It should not

embrace China as uncritically as

the KMT, or take on the role of

intermediary for China’s

interactions with Taiwan. Instead,

it should express the wishes of the

Taiwanese to the Chinese. Ko’s

statements should also allow the

international community to gain a

better understanding of public

opinion in Taiwan. In particular,

Western countries should formulate

more realistic China policies and

stop listening to China and

ignoring the human rights of


As for Ko’s controversial remarks

on colonialism during the interview

with Foreign Policy, although he

had good intentions, he failed to

make his point clearly enough. In

particular, he failed to

distinguish between the former

colonies of Western democracies and

those of Chinese dictators.

Paul Lin is a political


Translated by Eddy Chang



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