China angered by Japan visit of Taiwan opposition leader

Taiwan's opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen gives a speech at a party congress on Sept 19, 2015.
Taiwan's opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen gives a speech at a party congress on Sept 19, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China expressed anger on Friday about a visit next month to Japan by Taiwan opposition leader and presidential frontrunner Tsai Ing-wen, saying Japan should not give anyone a platform to promote Taiwan independence views.

Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has traditionally favoured Taiwan's formal independence, says it believes only the island's people can decide its future. Beijing takes this to mean it wants independence.

Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949, and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring what it views as a renegade province under its control.

Tsai is expected to meet members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the main opposition Democratic Party on the October 6-9 visit, according to the DPP.

"We are extremely concerned about Tsai Ing-wen's activities in Japan and resolutely opposed," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing. "We demand the Japanese side strictly abide by the one-China principle and promises made to China on the Taiwan issue, and not provide space or any excuse for anybody to disseminate Taiwan independence," he added.

Tsai visited the United States this year, which also angered China.

Many people in Taiwan, which was a Japanese colony from 1895-1945, have a broadly more positive view of Japan than people in China or Korea.

The first, and so far only, DPP president, Chen Shui-bian, infuriated Beijing during his term from 2000 to 2008.

China accused him of trying to push for independence, even though Chen tried to maintain stable ties.

China-Taiwan relations improved after the Nationalist Ma Ying-jeou became president in 2008. China and Taiwan have since signed a series of landmark trade and economic deals.

Ma steps down next year because of term limits, and Tsai is favourite to win the January presidential election.