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Washington DC - May 12-14, 2020
China slams US for congratulating Tsai on Taiwan poll win
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 12, 2020

China on Sunday slammed officials from the US and other countries for congratulating Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen after she was re-elected with a landslide victory in a stunning rebuke of Beijing's campaign to isolate the self-ruled island.

Tsai, who had pitched herself as a defender of liberal democratic values against an increasingly authoritarian China, secured a record-breaking win in Saturday's presidential election.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as top diplomats from Britain and Japan, issued statements congratulating Tsai and the island's democratic elections.

But Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its territory, denounced their actions as violating the one-China principle.

"The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this," said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

"We oppose any form of official exchange between Taiwan and countries that have established diplomatic relations with China," he said in a statement.

Chinese state media also sought to downplay Tsai's victory and cast doubt on the legitimacy of her campaign by accusing the Taiwanese leader of "dirty tactics" and cheating.

Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) used "dirty tactics such as cheating, repression and intimidation to get votes, fully exposing their selfish, greedy and evil nature", said official news agency Xinhua in an op-ed Sunday.

Xinhua also accused Tsai of buying votes, and said "external dark forces" were partly responsible for the election results.

Beijing, which has vowed to one day take Taiwan -- by force if necessary -- loathes Tsai because she refuses to acknowledge the idea that Taiwan is part of "one China".

China doubled down on its "one-China principle" after Tsai's victory, with Geng emphasising Sunday that "regardless of what happens in Taiwan, the basic facts won't change: there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China".

"The Chinese government's position won't change," he added in a statement.

-'Orchestrating tensions'-

Over the last four years, Beijing has ramped up economic, military and diplomatic pressure on the island, hoping it would scare voters into supporting Tsai's opposition.

But the strong-arm tactics have backfired and voters flocked to Tsai's DPP, fuelled in part by China's hardline response to months of huge and violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Chinese state media have accused Tsai, who frequently invokes Hong Kong's protests as a warning about a Beijing-controlled Taiwan, of fear-mongering.

Tsai and her party are "orchestrating tensions", wrote the nationalistic Global Times on Saturday.

At the end of 2019, the Taiwanese leader "wantonly hyped up the so-called threat from the Chinese mainland while slandering Han Kuo-yu's mainland connections", it said, referring to her Beijing-friendly main opponent from the Kuomintang party.

Chinese state media also dismissed Saturday's election results as an anomaly in long-term ties between Taiwan and the mainland, with Xinhua describing Tsai's win as a "fluke".

"The fact that the Chinese mainland is getting increasingly stronger and the Taiwan island is getting weaker is an inevitable reality," added the Global Times.

"Recognising and complying with the reality is the only feasible option for Taiwan's peaceful development."

The state of Taiwan: Five things to know
Taipei (AFP) Jan 11, 2020 - Taiwan, which is voting for a new president and parliament, has been politically separated from China for the last seven decades but faces the threat of attack by Beijing should it ever declare independence.

Here are some key facts about the self-ruled democratic island, which has its own currency, flag, military and government but is not recognised as an independent state by the UN and most nations.

- China split -

After being defeated by the Communist Party in 1949, China's Kuomintang (KMT) nationalist government fled to the island province of Taiwan 180 kilometres (110 miles) off the mainland.

President Chiang Kai-shek, joined by two million supporters, set up his authoritarian Republic of China (ROC) government in Taipei. This remains Taiwan's official name.

The Communists established the People's Republic of China in Beijing, and have since insisted the island must be reintegrated, threatening force should it declare independence.

In 1991 Taiwan lifted emergency rule, unilaterally ending the state of war with China, and has emerged a vibrant liberal democracy. The first direct talks between Beijing and Taipei were held two years later.

Relations plummeted with the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rejects Beijing's "one China" principle.

In a historical irony, the modern-day version of the Kuomintang is the party that now pushes much warmer ties with communist China.

- Struggle for recognition -

Today home to 23 million people, the island has been progressively squeezed off the international stage by the more powerful Beijing.

The ROC government held a seat at the United Nations until the world body switched recognition to Beijing in 1971, and other countries and international groups soon followed suit.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979, agreeing it was the only representative of China.

But the United States has remained deliberately ambiguous on Taiwan's future status and is bound by an act of Congress to maintain de facto diplomatic ties, as well as supply the island with weapons to defend itself.

Over the years, Beijing has convinced most countries to sever diplomatic ties with Taipei and keep it out of international bodies such as the World Health Organization.

Last year the Solomon Islands and Kiribati became the latest to defect, leaving Taiwan recognised by just 15 states -- most of them minnows in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific, as well as the Vatican.

- Electronics giant -

Taiwan's export-based economy is one of the largest in Asia, but is dwarfed by that of China on which it depends for much of its business.

Transformed into a major tech manufacturing hub, the island is home to industry giants such as Foxconn, the world's largest electronic devices manufacturer, which assembles gadgets for major brands including Apple and Huawei.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the world's leading contract microchip maker, also supplying Apple and other tech giants.

Despite the global trade war, Taiwan posted third-quarter GDP growth of 2.9 percent last year, far outpacing neighbours such as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

- Asian pioneer -

Last May, Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalise gay marriage. It held its first same-sex weddings days later.

It is also a leader in gender equality, with 38 percent of seats in the 2016-elected parliament held by women, the highest proportion in Asia.

Tsai, who is running for re-election, is its first female president.

Taipei 101 was the world's tallest building, at more than 500 metres (1,670 feet), until 2010 when it was overtaken by Dubai's Burj Khalifa.

- Indigenous inhabitants -

The vast majority of Taiwan's population are Han Chinese, with just two percent from its original indigenous tribes.

Most scholars consider Taiwan and parts of Southeast Asia as the original source of the Austronesians, who include people in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, as well as New Zealand's Maoris, and Polynesians in Hawaii.

Taiwan's indigenous people suffered cultural and economic catastrophe once settlers landed on the island's shores from the 17th century.

Tsai, the first president with partial indigenous ancestry, via her grandmother, made history in 2016 when she formally apologised for the past.

But indigenous groups remain marginalised, with wages about 40 percent below the national average and higher unemployment.

Related Links
Taiwan News at

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Taiwan rivals in final election push as China's shadow looms
Taipei (AFP) Jan 10, 2020
Taiwan's presidential rivals will hold mass rallies on Friday in a final push to convince voters ahead of a closely watched election that looks set to infuriate China and send ripples far beyond its borders. Some 19 million people are eligible to vote on Saturday to choose between two leaders with very different visions for Taiwan's future - in particular how close the self-ruled island should tack to its giant neighbour. Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day re ... read more

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