Categories: Tea Leaf Nation

A Recording of FP’s Interview With Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je

A statement on a controversial quote.

On Jan. 29, Foreign Policy published on its Tea Leaf Nation channel the highlights of a Jan. 20 interview between FP contributor Grace Tsoi and Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je. That interview lasted over 45 minutes and was, as the original article attested, “conducted in a combination of Chinese and English” and “condensed for clarity.”

The interview quickly set off a flurry of coverage and controversy in Taiwan, as well in mainland China. In particular, reports have focused on this passage:

“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.”

On Feb. 1, Ko told domestic media he had not used the term “colonization” in his interview with FP. On Feb. 2, Ko appeared to back off from his earlier statement when he said he would be “more precise” in future interviews, and Taiwan-based Apple Daily quoted a member of Ko’s team saying, “It was our mistake.”

To the extent that any questions remain about the accuracy of FP’s translation, we make available below the relevant portion of the recorded interview with Ko. FP continues to stand by its translation.

Listen to the relevant portion of Ko’s interview, which is mostly in Chinese:

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