Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took time from his visit to Zimbabwe on Monday to condemn Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen for being re-elected in a landslide, declaring that Taiwan’s “separatists” would “stink for 10,000 years.”
Some outlets have translated the quote as reading that they would stink “for eternity.”
Taiwan is a sovereign, democratic state south of China that has never formed part of the People’s Republic of China. The Communist Party insists that Taiwan is a rogue province of Beijing and refers to those who acknowledge the reality of its existence as a nation as “separatists.”
Taiwanese citizens went to the polls on Saturday and re-elected Tsai with over 2.5 million votes, about 57 percent of votes, more than her opponent, Kuomintang Party candidate Han Kuo-yu. Tsai received over 8 million votes, more than any other Taiwanese presidential candidate in history. Three of every four eligible voters participated.
Under dictator Xi Jinping, China has increased its violent threats towards Taiwan and upped the number of military incursions through the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to intimidate the Taiwanese out of voting for Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DDP), which advocates distance from Beijing.
On Monday, Wang did not make any threats. Instead, he insulted Tsai’s voters and blamed “some Western politicians” for scaring the Taiwanese into voting in their best interest.
“[The one-China principle] will not change in any way because of a local election on the Taiwan island, nor will it shake despite erroneous words and actions by some Western politicians,” the South China Morning Post quoted Wang as saying. China’s “one-China principle” states that Taiwan is not a sovereign state and that any nation acknowledging that Taiwan is a state cannot maintain diplomatic relations with China. The “One China policy” is a different term usually meant to mean that there is only one China in the world – either the Republic of China (Taiwan) or the People’s Republic of China – but supporters of either interpretation use it interchangeably, leaving it with no clear definition.
Wang went on to say that “the reunification across the [Taiwan] strait is inevitable. Going against the trend is bound to reach a dead end. Anyone separating the nation will stink for 10,000 years.”
The Taiwanese government replied curtly to news of Wang’s remarks.
“[Wang] must face up to reality and stop believing his own lies,” a statement from Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles relations with China, read.
Wang’s comments followed an aggressive column published in the Global Times, an English-language Chinese state propaganda outlet, demanding Beijing use its military to intimidate Taiwan more to punish its people for voting for Tsai.
“[W]e 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 Global Times argued.
Tsai’s first term as president was defined by an assertive foreign policy encouraging the world to embrace Taiwan as one of the planet’s most functional democracies and acknowledge China as a global totalitarian threat.
“We are witnessing China’s rise and expansion, as they challenge free, democratic values and the global order through a combination of authoritarianism, nationalism, and economic might,” Tsai said in a speech this October, observing the National Day of her country. “As the strategic forefront of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan has become the first line of defense for democratic values.”
China has responded with elevated military activity near Taiwan and a forceful campaign to convince the few world nations that acknowledge Taiwan to abandon the island. The campaign has been moderately successful, resulting in only 15 nations now recognizing Taiwan as a state. The United Nations, which offers a platform to non-states such as Palestine, does not welcome Taiwan, even in its non-political platforms such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
Tsai has also attempted to expand ties to Washington, which does not formally recognize Taiwan as a state but offers some aid in the form of weapons sales and diplomatic support. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Tsai this weekend on her re-election and American officials in Washington attended an event this weekend celebrating the election. President Donald Trump broke decades of precedent in 2016 in accepting a phone call from Tsai congratulating him on his election.