'Han frenzy': new Kaohsiung mayor set to visit HK this month

March 06, 2019 13:07
Kuomintang Mayor Han Kuo-yu of Kaohsiung, who is seen as a potential contender in the 2020 Taiwan presidential election, is expected to meet with officials of business chambers in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Han Kuo-yu, the new Kuomintang (KMT) mayor of the city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan, has announced that he is scheduled to visit Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and Xiamen from March 22 to 28, stressing that his delegation will seek business opportunities.

Despite supporting the controversial "1992 Consensus", Han still prevailed in local elections in Taiwan last November, winning the mayoral race in Kaohsiung, a traditional stronghold of the ruling and independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Han will not be the first among the new mayors in Taiwan’s six special municipalities to set foot in Hong Kong after the November elections.

In January, the newly sworn-in mayor of the Taichung City, Lu Shiow-yen, who is also a KMT member, paid a flying visit to our city to attend a signing ceremony for a cooperation agreement between the Hong Kong Chinese Importers’ and Exporters’ Association and the Taichung Farmers’ Association.

Lu’s visit has largely gone under the public radar: she only stayed in the city for less than 24 hours and didn’t meet with any SAR government official during her trip.

But Han's visit is likely to be different, given his fame after winning the Kaohsiung race.

There is talk that an American think tank is interested in inviting Han to visit the United States in April or May.

And since he is also seen by many as a potential contender in the 2020 Taiwan presidential election, his visit later this month is certainly newsworthy.

Unlike President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP, Han is considered politically acceptable by Beijing because of his endorsement of the "1992 Consensus".

The term refers to a reported agreement between the semi-official representatives of mainland China and Taiwan that they both recognize there is only one China, although the principle will be interpreted by each side in a way it sees fit.

There is talk that Han will meet with business chambers in Hong Kong.

Sources also said that officials of the two SAR governments may possibly meet with Han, although everything is still being arranged.

In its reply to inquiries on Monday, the Hong Kong government said that Han is welcome to visit our city.

It said the SAR administration is eager to enhance municipal exchanges between Hong Kong and Kaohsiung, and hopes that Han’s visit can facilitate bilateral cooperation between the two cities.

This early, many expect the “Han frenzy” to grip our city this month.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 5

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]


Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.