China Warns Ahead of Election It Will ‘Smash Any Taiwan Independence Plots’

TAINAN, TAIWAN - JANUARY 13: Taiwan's Vice President and presidential candidate for the ru
Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

The Chinese Defense Ministry on Friday sought to bully Taiwanese voters by warning it will “smash any Taiwan independence plots,” implicitly threatening the Taiwanese if they make the “wrong” choice by voting for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate William Lai Ching-te on Saturday.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Zhang Xiaogang said Taiwan’s purchase of upgraded U.S. F-16 fighter jets would not “stop the trend of complete reunification of the motherland.”

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army remains on high alert at all times and will take all necessary measures to resolutely crush any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist plots and firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhang said.

China has previously framed the Taiwanese election as a choice between “peace and prosperity” versus “war and decline.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Friday refused to answer questions about Taiwan’s elections, describing them as “China’s internal affairs.”

Lai Ching-te, Taiwan’s vice president and current presidential candidate gives a speech at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rally in Taipei of the 2024 presidential election in Taipei, Taiwan on December 29, 2023. (Walid Berrazeg/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“Regardless of the result, it will not change the basic fact that Taiwan is part of China and there is only one China in the world,” she said.

Mao scolded the U.S. government for “sending wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces” and demanded Washington “stop official interactions with Taiwan.”

“If the U.S. truly hopes to safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, it needs to explicitly oppose ‘Taiwan independence’ and support China’s peaceful reunification,” she insisted.

Lai looks like the frontrunner going into Saturday’s election, potentially extending the DPP’s time in office to an unprecedented three terms by succeeding President Tsai Ing-wen. China would greatly prefer the more pro-Beijing Kuomintang Party (KMT) and its presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih to prevail.

The third major candidate is former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je of the relatively young and small Taiwan People’s Party (TPP). Ko passed on an opportunity to form a fusion ticket with Hou, making the most likely outcome a Lai victory while the opposition vote splits two ways.

All of the candidates held massive rallies on Friday. At the KMT rally in New Taipei, Hou told supporters the Taiwan Strait “will likely fall into turmoil” if Lai is elected and DPP remains in power.

The Associated Press

Taiwan President and Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate William Lai, from left, shakes hands with Taiwan’s Nationalist Party presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih, while Taiwan’s Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je stands by in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Pei Chen, Pool)

“Do you also want Taiwan to fall into war, folks?” he asked the crowd.

For his part, Ko said TPP’s strong showing in the presidential race has challenged Taiwan’s “political status quo” by attracting “an increasing wave of people hoping for reform.”

Scott Kennedy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) told the Associated Press (AP) on Friday that contrary to China’s bluster, the DPP is unlikely to push “separatist” policies under Lai, and few in Taiwan desire radical changes to the current status quo.

“No one wants to provoke a war, and the current situation is minimally acceptable to almost everyone, whether in Taiwan, mainland China, or the United States,” Kennedy noted.


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