Taiwan independence ruins safe life for its people, China warns

Tsai Ing-wen says Taiwanese people will be ‘democratic and freer’ for generations to come.
By Elaine Chan for RFA
2023.10.11
Taiwan independence ruins safe life for its people, China warns Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen gestures next to Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai, during the National Day celebration ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan October 10, 2023..
Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

China has once more warned that “Taiwanese independence” is the biggest destroyer of the peace and safety of the island’s 23 million people.

“Both sides [of the Taiwan Strait] belong to one China, the historical coordinates are clear, the legal facts are clear, with no room for doubt or change. The people of both sides want peace, development, exchange, cooperation,” said Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Chen Binhua in a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday .

“Engaging in ‘Taiwan independence,’ separatism goes against the common will of compatriots from both sides, severely destroys compatriots’ interests, pushing Taiwan towards a dangerous state,” Chen stressed.

“‘The golden child of Taiwanese independence’ will only destroy the sons of Taiwan,” he added, referring to Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai Ching-te, a strong advocate of Taiwan’s self-determination and a Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate. 

Chen’s warning was in response to a question on Lai’s stance that the January presidential elections in Taiwan were about choosing between democracy and dictatorship, not about war and peace.

The comments came a day after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the island seeks “peaceful coexistence with free, unrestricted, and unburdened interactions between people across the strait” in her last National Day address on Tuesday.

Tsai stressed that “peace is the only option across the strait,” and keeping the status quo is the critical key to ensuring peace.

“Particularly, the international community has come to realize that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is an indispensable component of global security and prosperity. Neither side can unilaterally change the status quo. Differences across the strait must be resolved peacefully.”

Tsai also said that the island’s “democratic achievements have set a benchmark for the world,” and Taiwanese people will be a “democratic and free people for generations to come.” 

Yet, Beijing regards the self-governed island as a renegade province and has vowed that it will reclaim sovereignty, even if it has to resort to the use of force. Taiwan has become the flashpoint between the United States and China – where relations are increasingly strained – inevitably raising its importance on the world map.

At the Taiwan Affairs Office press conference, spokesperson Chen said more and more Taiwanese people are aware that “Taiwanese independence” means war, with reference to findings from a cross-strait survey by Taiwan’s United Daily News.

“The DPP and ‘Taiwanese independence’ forces are not only troublemakers of the Taiwan Strait area’s peace and stability, but are also the biggest destructors of the Taiwanese public’s peaceful and safe lives,” Chen remarked.

In early October, the widely circulated UDN found in its annual survey that the approval rate for Tsai’s handling of cross-strait relations was 38%, against 49% disapproval. This was despite a 5-percentage-point rise in the approval rate from last year’s 33% and a 4-percentage-point drop in the disapproval rate to from 53% in 2022. 

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest possibility of war, Taiwanese respondents indicated a 4.5, up from 4.4 the previous year. 

Also on a tension scale of one to 10, the survey found that Taiwanese people believed that tensions were most intense in political and military relations, and diplomacy with 7, 7.2 and 7.3 respectively. Conversely, moderation was felt for societal and trade relations, at 5.4 and 6.4 respectively.

Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.

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