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Tainan's mayor reaffirms his pro-independence stance

LOS ANGELES — Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), who recently described himself as being "pro-China," said Thursday that his pro-Taiwan independence stance remains unchanged.

Earlier this month, the pro-independence mayor surprised the public when he said he is "pro-China as much as he loves Taiwan."

The matter aroused great interest among the Taiwanese expatriate community in the United States during Lai's current visit there.

Asked about the matter by a member of the audience after giving a speech in Los Angeles on Thursday, Lai said "pro-China, love Taiwan" means reaching out the hand of friendship to China, with Taiwan as the center, in the hope of enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation and facilitating the peaceful development of cross-Taiwan Strait relations.

He said this is a gesture of friendship and also an attitude.

It is similar to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je's (柯文哲) opinion that Taiwan should be "friendly to China," Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu's (陳菊) view that Taiwan should "know China," and Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsang's (鄭文燦) belief that Taiwan should "reconcile with China," according to Lai.

He said "pro-China" can also be equated with "getting close to the Chinese people."

Stressing that there is no change to his pro-independence stance, Lai said an advocate of Taiwan independence can also reach out the hand of friendship to China without any contradiction.

However, he expressed disagreement with the idea of Taiwan signing a peace pact with China, saying that such an agreement would not be helpful to peace, as evident in the example of Israel.

Lai recalled that during a visit he made last year to Jerusalem to attend the International Conference of Mayors, he was told by the event's organizer that peace is not achieved by an agreement signed behind closed doors by a minority of people, and will only arrive after a long period of exchanges that lead to cooperation and mutual trust.

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