Taipei--Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te (???) on Friday described relations with China as a relationship between friends but stressed that he still advocated Taiwan independence.
Lai, a popular figure in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who is seen as a future presidential hopeful, said his stance on cross-strait relations is clear, which is in favor of "Taiwan independence, and that stance or ideal will not change no matter what position I hold."
But he said his attitude toward China is friendly and his strategy flexible, noting that he would seek common ground and put aside differences in cross-strait exchanges to enhance bilateral understanding.
He laid out his views during a radio interview when he was asked about the differences between his approach to China and that of Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???).
Both have made friendly remarks toward China in recent weeks at a time when official cross-strait exchanges have come to a virtual standstill, reflecting China's refusal to deal with the DPP government of President Tsai Ing-wen (???), who took office in May 2016.
Lai spoke of "pro-China and love Taiwan," while Ko, during a visit of Shanghai to attend a twin city forum, spoke of "both sides are of a family," and "both sides share the same destiny." .
In the radio interview, Lai said Ko defined cross-strait ties as a relationship between a couple, while he defined it as one between friends.
What they had in common, he said, was that neither accepts the "1992 consensus," which Beijing sees as the foundation of cross-strait exchanges.
The consensus refers to a tacit agreement reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, when it was under the Kuomintang administration, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret its meaning.
Lai also said "Taiwan independence is the broadest consensus in Taiwan's society," which was something that Ko has not said.
Whether it is the "1992 consensus" or efforts to get the DPP to freeze its Taiwan independence platform or the signing of a cross-strait peace agreement, they are all means used by China to divide Taiwan with the ultimate aim of swallowing Taiwan, Lai said.
He also described cross-strait relations as international relations and said that when deciding on the nation's direction, the goal should be maximizing the welfare of the people rather than moving within boundaries set by big powers.
"China is not to be feared. What is to be feared is that we cannot unite," he said.
On former President Ma Ying-jeou's (???) comment that Chinese authorities will not accept or be happy with his "pro-China, love Taiwan" slogan, Lai said that reflected the problem with Ma.
"Ma cares too much about whether China is happy and ignores the will of the Taiwanese people," Lai said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel