Taiwan election: global leaders draw Beijing ire for congratulating new president

Taiwan election: global leaders draw Beijing ire for congratulating new president

    China has called on the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs following their congratulatory messages to Lai Ching-te for his election victory

    Taiwan election: global leaders draw Beijing’s ire for congratulating new president

    Global leaders have extended their congratulations to Lai Ching-te for his victory in Taiwan's presidential election, commending the significant voter turnout and the democratic process. However, these well-wishes have sparked criticism from Beijing, as it had hoped for the removal of Taiwan's ruling party

    Lai Ching-te, representing the pro-sovereignty Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), secured an unprecedented third term in power after winning over 40% of the vote in Saturday's election. Lai, who succeeds Tsai Ing-wen as president, has pledged to uphold her foreign policy initiatives in countering China's ambitions to integrate Taiwan

    A spokesperson from the US State Department expressed congratulations to the Taiwanese people, acknowledging their steadfast commitment to a strong democratic system and electoral process

    In a press statement following the election result, US President Joe Biden, who intends to dispatch an unofficial delegation to Taiwan in the upcoming week, restated the United States' stance of not endorsing Taiwanese independence

    However, China's foreign ministry strongly criticized the statement from the US State Department on Sunday, asserting that it "seriously violated" the previous commitments made by the US to maintain solely non-official ties with Taiwan in cultural, economic, and other aspects. The Chinese ministry stated that it lodged "solemn representations" with the US regarding these remarks

    The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Canada joined in extending their congratulations to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The UK's Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, remarked that the election outcome was a "testament to Taiwan's vibrant democracy."

    However, the Chinese embassy in the UK expressed strong opposition to what they deemed as the UK's misguided actions. They urged the UK government to cease any statements or actions that they perceive as interfering in China's internal affairs

    Japan's Foreign Minister, Yoko Kamikawa, extended warm congratulations to Taiwan, acknowledging it as "an extremely crucial partner and an important friend." However, Beijing's embassy in Tokyo strongly criticized the statement, denouncing it as "a serious interference in China's internal affairs"

    Beijing expressed its disapproval, stating that it had made "solemn representations" to Tokyo regarding the statement, which largely reiterated Japan's previous positions

    Kamikawa emphasized that Japan "shares fundamental values and enjoys close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges" with Taiwan

    The anticipation of a contentious response from China to Lai's victory was widespread. The Chinese Communist party, considering Taiwan as part of its territory despite not having governed the island, has consistently prioritized the "re-unification" of China and Taiwan, with President Xi Jinping expressing the possibility of using force to achieve this goal. The party holds a strong aversion to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), considering them separatists, and engaged in both rhetorical and cognitive warfare efforts in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to influence voters to remove the party from power

    Following the outcome on Saturday, Chen Binhua, the spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), restated the claim that "Taiwan is China's Taiwan" and underscored the commitment to what they see as the "inevitable trend" of annexation

    "This election cannot alter the fundamental pattern and trajectory of cross-strait relations, emphasizing the enduring belief that the motherland will inevitably reunify in due course"

    On Sunday, Taiwan's foreign ministry denounced the comments as "fallacious," "absurd," and deemed them "not worthy of rebuttal"

    The statement emphasized that asserting Taiwan as an "internal Chinese matter" was deemed "totally inconsistent with the international perception and the cross-strait situation." It was further stated that such a stance goes against the expectations of the global democratic community and contradicts the will of the people of Taiwan, who steadfastly insist on the value of democracy

    Dali Yang, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, noted that the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) faced criticism from nationalists in China who believed that attempts to influence public sentiment in Taiwan toward a more pro-China stance had not succeeded

    Recent years have seen Beijing intensify military and economic pressure on Taiwan, sparking concerns among international observers about the potential for conflict. On Friday, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) declared a state of "high alert" and readiness to "smash" plots of Taiwanese independence. However, there was limited activity on the actual day of the election

    Amanda Hsiao, a senior China analyst based in Taipei with the International Crisis Group, suggested that Beijing might respond to Lai's victory with increased pressure, especially leading up to his inauguration in May. The anticipated response, however, was expected to be less overtly aggressive than the large-scale military drills observed in recent years

    "They labeled Lai as a troublemaker, so there is some expectation that they respond," she commented

    China consistently urges its allies to support its territorial claim over Taiwan. On Saturday, Russia's foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova affirmed Moscow's stance, stating that Russia continued to view Taiwan as an integral part of China

    In response, Taiwan's foreign ministry accused Russia of willingly aligning itself with the Chinese Communist regime, characterizing it as a deliberate promotion of Beijing's "One China principle," a domestic policy asserting Taiwan as a Chinese province

    Lai, celebrating his victory, described it as a "victory for the community of democracies" globally. Despite almost 72% of eligible voters turning out on Saturday to grant the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) a third term, it fell short of a majority mandate

    The introduction of a third party, the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), and its presidential candidate Ko Wen-je, divided the opposition vote. The TPP secured 26.4%, while the Kuomintang (KMT) received 33.5%. The TPP also claimed eight legislative yuan seats, providing Ko significant influence in the 113-seat parliament, where neither the DPP nor KMT attained a majority, securing 51 and 52 seats, respectively

    Wen-Ti Sung, a China expert at the Australian National University, observed, "Taiwan has finally officially entered into a three-party system, which further complicates consensus-building, especially for major legislations"

    Professor Yang from the University of Chicago noted that each participating party got less than desired but a bit more than prepared for. This also applied to China, which opposed a Lai victory but welcomed the fact that the DPP lost control of parliament, constraining Lai's policymaking

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