Chinese state media defends Beijing's cross-strait policy

Supporters of Taiwan President-elect Tsai Ing-wen wave campaign flags in Taipei on Jan 16, 2016.
Supporters of Taiwan President-elect Tsai Ing-wen wave campaign flags in Taipei on Jan 16, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

The Chinese state media has downplayed the victory of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan's elections last Saturday, while the Foreign Ministry warned against external interference in cross-strait relations and support for Taiwan independence.

Analysts say the state media is defending China's leadership in the face of domestic criticisms that its cross-strait policy has failed and public concerns that the dream of reunification might become distant again with the DPP at the helm.

In a statement yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: "We hope and believe that the international community will adhere to the One-China Principle, stand against any forms of 'Taiwan independence' and support, with concrete actions, the peaceful development of the cross-strait relations." He dubbed the Taiwan issue a part of China's domestic affairs.

The nationalistic Global Times tabloid, in an op-ed yesterday, said the strong showing by the DPP in both presidential and parliamentary elections was a vote for party leader Tsai Ing-wen, and not for an independence push.

It also warned the Taiwan president-elect that she would meet "a dead end" if she crossed the red line of cross-strait relations by pushing for independence.

The official Xinhua news agency said the election outcome was "influenced by multiple and complex factors, among which the island's economy, people's livelihoods and the mentality of the young were the most decisive".

It defended Beijing's cross-strait policy, saying warming ties remained the top desire in Taiwanese society. "Instead of being a failure, the mainland's cross-strait policies, which encourage peaceful ties across the strait, have guided Taiwan's public opinion so that people dare not, cannot and do not want to seek independence."

Beijing-based political analyst Li Fan said the state media was responding in part to public sentiment that the election results were an indictment of China's cross-strait policy. "Some believe the mainland should not have been so nice to Taiwan," he said.

"While they may not think the cross-strait policy has failed, they definitely feel the mainland cannot treat the DPP like it did the KMT. Such sentiments would exert political pressure on the leaders."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese state media defends Beijing's cross-strait policy'. Print Edition | Subscribe