Chinese media warns Taiwan against pursuing independence after Xi-Ma meeting

Chinese residents watch the live TV coverage of the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore, in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Nov 7, 2015.
Chinese residents watch the live TV coverage of the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore, in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Nov 7, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Beijing (AFP) - Chinese state media warned Taiwan against pursuing independence on Sunday (Nov 8), a day after a historic meeting between the leaders of the mainland and the island it calls its own.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's handshake in Singapore was a symbolic step towards closing the rift that has separated Beijing and Taipei since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

But the occasion has also highlighted the tensions that remain across the Taiwan strait, where China still has an estimated 1,500 missiles aimed at stopping the island from declaring its independence.

Relations have improved dramatically since Ma's 2008 election, with increases in trade and tourism, as well as the start of direct flights.

But Beijing has grown concerned about the relationship's future as Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has long called for a split with the mainland, looks set to win January's presidential election, potentially unseating Ma's friendly Kuomintang (KMT).

The People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, warned against "Taiwan independence" in a Sunday morning editorial, saying that Taiwan must respect the "1992 consensus", a tacit agreement which acknowledges there is "one China" but allows each side their own interpretation.

Without adhering to the principle, it said: "The boat of peaceful development may meet with raging waves and stormy seas."

"It might even capsize," it added.

Stern admonitions also appeared in the often fiery Global Times, which has close ties to the communist leadership.

"Taiwan society lacks vigilance, and Taiwan has failed to impose restrictions on its potential destructive force to the island's future", the paper said.

The island, it warned, "must urge candidates that only by adhering to the 1992 Consensus can they fulfil their obligations of guaranteeing a lasting peace for the island's 23 million people, and therefore be qualified as a 'president'".

Mr Ma, too, has warned against the consequences of diverging from the 1992 consensus, which the DPP does not recognise.

DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said that she will maintain the status quo if elected president in January, but is likely to face pressure from pro-independent voices within her own party.