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June 28, 2017

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Ko headed to Shanghai for cities forum

The annual cross-strait cities forum between Taipei and Shanghai will take place after all, with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je leading a municipal delegation on July 2.

Earlier speculation stoked fears the forum would be postponed or even canceled due to recent cross-strait political tensions. This year's meeting was initially slated to take place in June.

According to Shanghai officials, this year's forum will be themed on "healthy cities" and will include talks between district administrations on subjects relating to local health, intelligent cities, municipal services, environment and the youth demographic.

Ko's trip to Shanghai will be the first time a Taipei mayor has embarked on a trip to China since May 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in as president.

The Taipei mayor has signaled in recent days that he was willing to extend an olive branch to China despite the tensions between the two sides, highlighted by Beijing's recent poaching of Taiwan diplomatic ally Panama last week.

"Goodwill follows exchanges, and only with goodwill can you resolve a standstill. We urge mainland China not to use the 0.5 percent to reject the 99.5 percent of Taiwan's goodwill," Ko said during a political talk show recently.

"As long as cross strait relations and the city forum exchanges are conducted with the proper nature, we maintain an attitude of proactivity and openness toward municipal exchanges along the Taiwan Strait," Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said in response.

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