The Chinese Communist Party publication Global Times published an emotional screed against Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, following her inauguration on Wednesday, urging her to “stay sober” twice and threatening that Taiwan is playing a “dangerous game” by electing her.
Tsai and her anti-communist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took the helm of the island in 2016. She was reelected in a landslide in January and began her second term this week. The Communist Party has expanded efforts to isolate Taiwan during her tenure, forcing its exclusion from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) and other global venues and bribing former allies of the country to change their allegiances and establish ties to Beijing.
In her speech on Wednesday, Tsai reasserted the fact that Taiwan is a country – it has never been ruled by Beijing and has maintained a functional state apparatus for 70 years – and rejected proposals that would grant the Communist Party sovereignty over her nation. Instead, she advised China that its leaders have “a duty to find a way to coexist” with Taiwan.
Tsai’s remarks outraged the Chinese government, as evidenced by the Global Times editorial.
“They [Tsai’s government] are unwilling to face the fact that the one-China principle is one of the important cornerstones of the world order, and that even the U.S. dare not openly deny it, but arrogantly think that Taiwan could seek secession with its tiny strength,” the state newspaper argued in its editorial, titled insultingly, “Tsai Must Be Warned for Her to Stay Sober.”
The “one-China principle,” which only China abides by, is the belief that Taiwan is not the Republic of China – its official name – but a province of the People’s Republic of China. Beijing attempts to impose this principle through the “one-China policy,” which states that the world’s nations may only accept the sovereignty of Beijing or Taipei, but not both. Taiwan’s government, in turn, considers the Communist Party an illegal aberration from the true Republic of China.
“We want to pour buckets of cold water on Tsai to help her stay sober,” the editorial continued. “First, the Tsai authorities have no strength to break the global political structure in which there is only one China. … Second, Taiwan island is playing a very dangerous game as a US pawn to contain China. The island needs to tread a fine line.”
The editorial concluded with a threat to invade Taiwan, claiming that America will not help if China “decides to respond to Taiwan’s provocative actions with military means.”
“In the game in which two elephants – China and the U.S. – fight, Taiwan is not a tiger or a hyena, but an ant. It needs to act very cautiously, rather than being provocative,” the Global Times wrote.
The increase ire out of the Beijing mouthpiece followed reports that the Trump administration approved the sale of $180 million worth of American military equipment to Taiwan in light of increasingly bellicose language out of the Communist Party.
The U.S. State Department said the sale of the equipment – namely, MK-48 torpedoes, as well as test equipment and parts of equipment Taiwan already owns – “will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”
“The U.S. latest plan to sell arms to the island of Taiwan of 18 torpedoes is overpriced and cannot make any difference in a potential military conflict between the island and the Chinese mainland [Communist China],” the Global Times griped.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian – notable as the source of a conspiracy theory claiming the U.S. Army caused the current Chinese coronavirus pandemic – issued terse remarks saying Beijing “firmly opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan” generally.
Zhao had much more to say in response to Tsai’s inauguration on Wednesday and a congratulatory statement sent to her from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“The Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and core interests,” Zhao said. “The Chinese government and people are determined in opposing Taiwan independence separatist activities, upholding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, opposing external interference and realizing national reunification.”
“We solemnly inform the U.S. that Taiwan independence will only lead to a dead end, and attempts to condone and support Taiwan independence are doomed to fail,” Zhao said. The Chinese Foreign Ministry translation of Zhao’s comments uses scare quotes around “Taiwan independence.”