Taiwan’s government on Wednesday placed advertisements in leading Indian newspapers to mark the democratic island’s upcoming National Day on October 10.
China, which claims the island, responded by issuing a threatening letter to the Indian press on Wednesday night discouraging them from referring to Taiwan as a “country” or “nation” independent of Beijing.
Taiwan operates as a sovereign state with its own democratic government and military. Beijing regards the island as a renegade province and has vowed to reunify Taiwan with China by force, if necessary.
Taipei’s National Day advertisement on Wednesday saluted India, the world’s largest democracy, as a natural ally of Taiwan. It also reportedly featured a photograph of Taiwan’s democratically elected president, Tsai Ing-wen.
Beijing reacted to the advertisements within hours, ordering its Indian embassy to email a letter to “journalists in India, including Reuters,” on Wednesday night, the international news agency reported.
“Regarding the so-called forthcoming ‘National Day of Taiwan,’ the Chinese Embassy in India would like to remind our media friends that there is only one China in the world, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China,” the letter read.
“We hope Indian media can stick to Indian government’s position on Taiwan question and do not violate the ‘One China’ principle [sic],” the statement added.
“In particular, Taiwan shall not be referred to as a ‘country (nation)’ or ‘Republic of China’ or the leader of China’s Taiwan region as ‘President,’ so as not to send the wrong signals to the general public,” the embassy instructed.
“The Chinese government behaves like a street goon, not like an aspiring super-power. It threatens us,” Nitin Gokhale, the editor of an Indian defense and security website, told Reuters upon receiving the Chinese embassy’s email.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu responded to Beijing’s letter on Wednesday, denouncing it as the Chinese Communist Party’s brazen attempt to impose censorship on a free press.
“India is the largest democracy on Earth with a vibrant press & freedom-loving people. But it looks like communist #China is hoping to march into the subcontinent by imposing censorship. #Taiwan’s Indian friends will have one reply: GET LOST!” he tweeted.
#India🇳 is the largest democracy on Earth with a vibrant press & freedom-loving people. But it looks like communist #China is hoping to march into the subcontinent by imposing censorship. #Taiwan's🇹🇼 Indian friends will have one reply: GET LOST! JW https://t.co/XxkSSxj5ms
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) October 7, 2020
While India has no formal diplomatic ties to Taiwan, but both states maintain close business and cultural ties.
“Indian media organizations, including WION news, have reported on the upcoming national day [in Taiwan], with news publications The Statesman and the Indian Express running adverts on Wednesday for the ‘Double Tenth Day’ celebrations,” Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.
Taiwan’s National Day is also known as Double Ten Day. It “commemorates the beginning of the uprising leading to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China in 1912,” according to HKFP.