Ko Wen-je, the newly-elected mayor of Taipei as well as a former trauma surgeon, recently admitted to a gaffe made during an interview with Foreign Policy Magazine in which he allegedly praised the benefits of colonization. His comments quickly set off controversies in Taiwan and sparked fierce criticism in mainland China. Sate-run newspaper Global Times even threatened to boycott 2017 Universiade, which will be hosted by Taipei.
During a press briefing, the mayor promised “to be more precise” when speaking in future interviews after describing the benefits of colonization, according to Foreign Policy’s translation, as such:
For [the world’s] four Chinese-speaking regions — Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mainland China — the longer the colonization, the more advanced a place is. It’s rather embarrassing. Singapore is better than Hong Kong; Hong Kong is better than Taiwan; Taiwan is better than the mainland. I’m speaking in terms of culture. I’ve been to Vietnam and mainland China. Even though the Vietnamese are seemingly poor, they always stop in front of red traffic lights and walk in front of green ones. Even though mainland China’s GDP is higher than that of Vietnam, if you ask me about culture, the Vietnamese culture is superior.
Ko explained to Taiwanese media that he did not use the term ‘colonization’, but meant that “the longer a country is connected to civilization, the more advanced a place is”. However, Foreign policy later published a statement on its website, including recordings of Ko’s interview, to confirm the accuracy of its original report. In the audio, Ko is indeed heard mentioning zhimin (殖民), which means colonization in English when comparing cultural developments between Asian countries.
This is not the first time Ko has been in hot water over remarks he’s made since his inauguration in late December. Last month, Ko triggered controversy by joking that he would regift or sell a watch given by the British transport minister.
[Image via Sina]