(TibetanReview.net, Jan11’24) – As Taiwan prepared to vote for a new President and a new parliament on Jan 13, China has made clear whom it does not want to see elected as President: current Vice president Mr Lai Ching-te (or William Lai), the frontrunner and who belongs to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Lai has called Taiwan a sovereign country in keeping with the position of his party while China has made it clear that any declaration of independence by it would invite military invasion.
An electoral win by the current presidential frontrunner — who supports a sovereign Taiwan — would pose a “severe danger” to cross-Strait relations, dw.com Jan 11 cited China as saying.
“I sincerely hope the majority of Taiwan compatriots recognize the extreme harm of the DPP’s ‘Taiwan independence’ line and the extreme danger of Lai Ching-te’s triggering of cross-Strait confrontation and conflict, and to make the right choice at the crossroads of cross-Strait relations,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has said in a statement
“If he comes to power, he will further push for ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities (and create) turbulence in the Taiwan Strait,” it said.
The warning was echoed both by China and Taiwan’s largest opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT).
China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory, under its One China Policy, and has vowed to take it back one day — with force if necessary.
Lai, who has accused China of trying to undermine the election, has said Jan 9 that he would maintain the status quo in the strait and pursue peace through strength if elected, remaining open to engagement with Beijing under the preconditions of equality and dignity.
The KMT traditionally favours closer ties with China but denies being pro-Beijing.
Comparing Lai with Taiwan’s current President, KMT vice-presidential candidate Jaw Shaw-kong has warned, “Tsai Ing-wen is more low key, not shouting every day about ‘I’m for Taiwan independence’ and the Taiwan Strait is already so tense.”
KMT’s presidential candidate Hou You-yi has said he wouldn’t touch the issue of “unification” with China during his term in office if elected. Instead, he would maintain the status quo and encourage communication with China.
KMT’s official stance is that they oppose the “one country, two systems” autonomy model Beijing has offered to Taiwan.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry has rebuked China for lack of democracy in itself while interfering in other countries’ democratic elections.
In a post on social media platform X, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs account said, “Frankly, Beijing should stop messing with other countries’ elections & hold their own. Let the Chinese people freely choose their leaders.”