March 6, 2017

Taiwan: China Ignores Tsai Ing-wen’s Call for Peace and Dialogue

Image: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Chinese officials once again confirmed their unwillingness to engage in any form of meaningful and constructive dialogue regarding the fate of Taiwan. “We will never tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the motherland,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on the occasion of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC). Underlining its hard-line position towards Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen who supports the island’s formal independence and calls for dialogue and peace, the Chinese military carried out an exercise near Taiwan on Thursday, 2 March 2017. Similar to China’s reaction to the 2014-protests in Hong Kong, these actions illustrate the country’s strong opposition to self-determination which it tries to justify with outdated notions of sovereignty. 

 

Below is an article published by the Huffington Post:

China will resolutely oppose and contain Taiwan independence, Premier Li Keqiang said in remarks prepared for delivery at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament on Sunday [5 March 2017], amid heightened tension between Beijing and the self-ruled island.

China is deeply suspicious of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, whose ruling Democratic Progressive Party espouses the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing, which has cut off an official dialogue mechanism with Taipei.

Tsai says she wants peace with China.

“We will never tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the motherland,” Li said in a report available before he delivered an annual address to China’s top legislature.

China will protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity while safeguarding peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, Li said.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, viewing it as a wayward province.

In 2014, hundreds of students occupied Taiwan’s parliament for weeks in protests known as the Sunflower Movement, demanding more transparency and fearful of China’s growing economic and political influence on the democratic island.

Chinese jets and warships carried out exercises near Taiwan and into the Western Pacific on Thursday, as Taiwan’s defense minister warned of a growing threat from its giant neighbor.

Li also said the notion of Hong Kong independence would lead nowhere, and Beijing would ensure that the principle of “one country, two systems” is applied in Hong Kong and Macao “without being bent or distorted”.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula, granting it extensive autonomy, an independent judiciary and rule of law for at least 50 years.

Hong Kong students organized weeks of protests in late 2014 to push for full democracy, but Beijing declined to make concessions. Chinese leaders are increasingly concerned about a fledgling independence movement in Hong Kong.

China’s parliament last year staged a rare interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, to effectively bar pro-independence city lawmakers from taking office there.

Communist Party rulers in Beijing have ultimate control over Hong Kong, and some Hong Kong people are concerned they are increasingly interfering to head off dissent.