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China: Taiwan courting ‘disaster’ with independence comments

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former Taiwan premier William Lai (C) speaks after registering as a vice-presidential candidate, outside the Central Elections Committee in Taipei, Taiwan, on November 19, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

China has warned Taiwan that the self-ruled island is courting “disaster,” after the running mate for incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen in upcoming elections said he was working for Taiwan’s independence, a red line for the Chinese government.

On the weekend, Tsai chose former Taiwanese premier William Lai as her vice-president candidate in the elections due to be held in January, hoping that their Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is in favor of formal independence, would emerge victorious in the polls.

Lai said on Monday that he was a “realistic worker for Taiwan independence,” noting that Taiwan was already a sovereign “nation” called the Republic of China, its official name, and not “attached” to mainland China.

Lai’s comments, considered highly provocative by Beijing, were echoes of the remarks he made in April last year, when he told the parliament he was a “Taiwan independence worker” and that his position was that Taiwan was a sovereign, independent country.

His earlier comments prompted Beijing’s wrath, to the point that the Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said at the time that Beijing had to issue an international arrest warrant for Lai to face prosecution under China’s 2005 Anti-Secession Law.

Tsai herself has previously spoken of independence as well.

Responding to the remarks, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Thursday said both sides of the Taiwan Strait belonged to one China, and that Taiwan’s “reunification” with China was not something any force could stop.

“‘Taiwan independence’ is a dead-end, and it will only bring profound disaster to Taiwan. It will surely be opposed by all Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots,” it said.

On Tuesday, and after formally registering her candidacy, Tsai said that, as she had asserted before, the Republic of China was already a sovereign, independent nation.

Her main opponent, Han Kuo-yu of the China-friendly Kuomintang of China Party, has condemned formal independence as being worse than syphilis.

Taiwan has been autonomous since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Almost all world countries recognize Chinese sovereignty over the island under a policy known as “One China.”

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