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Chinese FM warns Taiwan against independence after election

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a press meeting in Cairo, Egypt on January 15, 2024 (Photo/Screengrab)

By Tenzin Nyidon

DHARAMSHALA –  Days after Taiwan elected a pro-sovereign President who vowed to defend it against foreign influences, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, issued a stern warning during a press meeting in Cairo, Egypt. He warned that any attempts by Taiwan to pursue independence would be met with severe consequences, stating that such moves would be “harshly punished.”

Yi, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks to questions about China’s views on cross-Straits relations and the situation in Taiwan following the leadership election.

“Taiwan’s election is a regional affair within China. No matter what the results of the election are, they cannot change the basic fact that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it. Taiwan has never been a country. It wasn’t in the past, and it certainly won’t be in the future. If anyone on the island of Taiwan thinks of going for independence, they will be trying to split Chinese territory, and will certainly be harshly punished by both history and the law,” he remarked.

Following the presidential election, Beijing strongly criticised and accused countries including the US, UK and others of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” after they extended congratulations to President-elect Lai Ching-te. The Democratic Progressive Party’s win in Taiwan’s presidential election has been perceived as a setback for Beijing, as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is known for its pro-sovereignty stance.

On Sunday, Beijing accused U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken of “sending a gravely wrong signal” after he extended his best wishes to president-elect Lai Ching-te. He commented on the democratic process, stating, ”We congratulate Dr Lai Ching-te on his victory in Taiwan’s presidential election. We also congratulate the Taiwan people for participating in free and fair elections and demonstrating the strength of their democratic system.”

In response to the congratulatory message from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te, China has issued a strong statement, urging the US to cease official interactions with Taiwan and refrain from sending what it perceives as a “wrong signal” to separatist forces advocating for ‘Taiwan independence.’

Among many international leaders congratulating President-elect te was the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama who expressed his admiration for the Taiwanese people’s determination to uphold democratic values. He wrote, “Indeed, observing the exercise of democracy, as has just taken place in Taiwan, is a source of encouragement for all of us who aspire to live in freedom and dignity.”

The President-elect Lai Ching-te, known for his pro-sovereignty views, has vowed to defend Taiwan against what he perceived as Chinese “intimidation.” In addition, Lai emphasised the island’s autonomy, aligning with the party’s commitment to preserving Taiwan as a distinct entity from mainland China.