China’s Global Times state-run newspaper urged the Chinese Communist Party to “impose military pressure” on Taiwan, a sovereign state that China claims as a rogue province, on Sunday following President Tsai Ing-wen’s reelection on the island this weekend.
Tsai won with an overwhelming lead against Kuomintang Party opponent Han Kuo-yu after receiving over eight million votes, the highest total for any presidential candidate in Taiwan’s history and over 2.5 million more than Han. Turnout in the election surpassed 75 percent.
Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) opposes growing Chinese pressure to abandon Taiwan’s sovereignty and promotes the use of diplomacy to encourage the world to defend Taiwan’s democratic values. Tsai particularly opposes “One Country, Two Systems,” a policy in which China would acquire sovereignty over Taiwan, but be legally barred from imposing communism. “One Country, Two Systems” is the current policy in Hong Kong, where millions have taken to the streets protesting China’s routine attempts to impose communist laws.
The Hong Kong protest movement had a significant impact on Taiwanese voters who, polls showed, have grown increasingly concerned about a Chinese attempted takeover of their government. Chinese dictator Xi Jinping has attempted to exacerbate these fears by threatening a military invasion of Taiwan. In October, he vowed that all who opposed a Chinese takeover would have their “bones ground to powder.”
Despite China’s insistence on claiming control of Taiwan, the island has never been under the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan possesses its own military and civilian facilities and institutions; no Beijing official has power over any part of the Taiwanese state.
The Times published a list of suggestions for Beijing moving forward to help contain growing international awareness of the Communist Party’s belligerence towards Taipei in light of Tsai’s commanding victory. Among the suggestions was a call to “encourage Tsai to ease her cross-Straits policies and not to further antagonize the Chinese mainland [the land legally within Chinese borders that does not include Beijing’s illegally claimed territories].”
“Meanwhile, we need to plan to crack down on Tsai’s new provocative actions, including imposing military pressure, which is an unbearable option for Taiwan authorities,” the newspaper urged.
The Global Times also demanded Beijing “strengthen the right to define the situation of the Taiwan Straits” and work to deny Taiwan the right of self-determination. “This means that we can ignore some of the messages that they want to highlight, and we can harshly stop the acts that they want to slip through unpunished,” it suggested.
Among its other recommendations was a harsh stance against any Western country that supports Taiwan at America’s urging.
Only 15 nations in the world recognize the reality of Taiwan’s statehood; the United States is not one of them, but it does provide military and civilian support to the country. The state newspaper predicted that America “will get up to more little tricks on the Taiwan question in the coming years,” condemning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for congratulating Tsai on her election victory.
“The American people and the people on Taiwan are not just partners — we are members of the same community of democracies, bonded by our shared political, economic, and international values,” Pompeo said in a statement congratulating Tsai. “We cherish our constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, nurture private sector-led growth and entrepreneurship, and work to be positive forces in the international community.”
“The United States thanks President Tsai for her leadership in developing a strong partnership with the United States and applauds her commitment to maintaining cross-Strait stability in the face of unrelenting pressure,” Pompeo continued. “Under her leadership, we hope Taiwan will continue to serve as a shining example for countries that strive for democracy, prosperity, and a better path for their people.”
Tsai also met personally with the head of the American Institute in Taiwan, the representative office for Washington there, Brent Christensen, on Sunday.
“The Taiwan-US partnership has already grown from a bilateral partnership to a global partnership. In the future, we will continue to build on the foundation we have created over the past three years to strengthen our cooperation on global issues,” Tsai said of the meeting.
While praising Tsai, Pompeo’s statement is significantly less than she received when she was first elected – in 2016, the same year as President Donald Trump. Tsai called the president-elect to congratulate him in November of that year and he accepted the call, breaking decades of precedent in Washington to disregard the president of Taiwan and outraging Beijing.
In addition to the scolding from the Global Times, the Chinese Foreign Ministry published an official statement from spokesman Geng Shuang demanding nations that maintain diplomatic ties to China stop congratulating Tsai.
“We oppose any forms of official ties between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with China,” Geng said, according to the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China. “China urged those countries to earnestly abide by the one-China principle, refrain from having any official ties or exchanges with Taiwan, deal with Taiwan-related issues properly and with caution, and avoid sending any wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” the newspaper quoted Geng as saying.
The People’s Daily listed Japan and the United Kingdom alongside the United States as having reached out to Tsai.
In her acceptance speech on Saturday, Tsai thanked the Taiwanese people for participating in the democratic process.
“With each presidential election, Taiwan is showing the world how much we cherish our free, democratic way of life, and how much we cherish our nation: the Republic of China,” Tsai said, using the official name of the island nation.
“This election has shown that the Taiwanese people hope the international community will witness our commitment to democratic values and will respect our national identity. We also hope that Taiwan will be given a fair opportunity to participate in international affairs,” she said.
Tsai also demanded an end to China’s violent threats.
“Over the past three years, our administration has been firm on our bottom line on Taiwan’s sovereignty, but we have also been willing to maintain healthy exchanges with China,” Tsai said. “In the face of China’s diplomatic pressure and military threats, we have maintained a non-provocative, non-adventurist attitude that has prevented serious conflict from breaking out in the Taiwan Strait.”