BEIJING/TAIPEI – China on Thursday said it hopes the majority of Taiwanese “make the right choice” ahead of pivotal elections, warning of the “extreme danger” of Taiwan’s ruling party presidential candidate Lai Ching-te in triggering cross-strait conflict.
Taiwan holds a pivotal presidential and parliamentary election on Saturday that is being closely watched internationally amid geopolitical tensions.
China has not publicly nominated a preferred candidate or specified what the right choice is.
Chen Binhua, a spokesman for the China’s Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, said in a statement that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Mr. Lai is a “Taiwan independence worker” and that if he came to power he would further promote separatist activities.
“I sincerely hope the majority of Taiwan compatriots recognize the extreme harm of the DPP’s ‘Taiwan independence’ line and the extreme danger of Mr. Lai Ching-te’s triggering of cross-Strait confrontation and conflict, and to make the right choice at the crossroads of cross-Strait relations,” the statement cited him as saying.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory and has cast the island’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday as a choice between peace and war across the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing has repeatedly warned any attempt to push for Taiwan’s formal independence means conflict. Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty assertion.
Earlier this week, Mr. Lai said in a press conference that he would maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Straits and pursue peace through strength if elected, remaining open to engagement with Beijing under the preconditions of equality and dignity.
Referring to Mr. Lai’s comments, Mr. Chen said Taiwan independence is “incompatible with peace” in the Taiwan Straits.
Both the DPP and the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party parties support Taiwan’s sovereignty but offer different views on the island’s relations with China.
The KMT argues that both Taipei and Beijing belong to one single China but each can interpret what that means under something called the “1992 consensus”, a tacit understanding reached between the then-KMT government and China in 1992.
On Thursday, the KMT’s presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih, told reporters that he wouldn’t touch the issue of reunification during his term of office if elected, while maintaining the status quo and encouraging exchanges with China.
The DPP rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, saying Taiwan’s future should be decided by its people.
The United States, in a clear signal to China, opposes any outside interference or influence in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, a senior Biden administration official said on Wednesday. Read full story
In a move that might stoke tensions with China, the United States said it plans to send an unofficial delegation to Taiwan following the election, according to a US senior official. – Reuters