Netizens bombard Tsai's Facebook page

A screenshot from a report on Chinese state television's military channel about the 31st Group Army, based in the Chinese city of Xiamen, carrying out drills. The Wednesday report said the exercises were carried out in recent days, without giving an
A screenshot from a report on Chinese state television's military channel about the 31st Group Army, based in the Chinese city of Xiamen, carrying out drills. The Wednesday report said the exercises were carried out in recent days, without giving an exact location.PHOTO: CHINA CENTRAL TELEVISION

Thousands of posts call for Taiwan to be ruled by China amid reports of military drills

TAIPEI • Thousands of posts, apparently from China, have flooded the Facebook page of Taiwan's President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, demanding that her self-ruled island be brought under Chinese control, though her party brushed it off and said it respected their views.

This came amid reports that a Chinese military unit based in a city that lies opposite Taiwan carried out live fire exercises and landing drills.

Ms Tsai and her independence- leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won presidential and parliamentary elections by a landslide last Saturday, prompting concern in Beijing that she may push for the island's formal independence.

More than 40,000 people had made comments on her Facebook page as of yesterday, in a repeat of an incident in November. Many posts were written in the simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland, and many repeated a Communist Party refrain about how shameful it is to harm the motherland.

"Why do Taiwanese think we've all been brainwashed? We've all be taught from small that Taiwanese are compatriots, and Taiwan is the jewelled island," wrote one, apparently Chinese, poster.

Others referred to Ms Tsai as "Taiwan province governor". "Absolutely, Taiwan is part of China unless you are taught in a misleading way," one person wrote in English.

Facebook is blocked in China, though there are ways around it, even if most Chinese people do not have access to that technology.

Chinese netizens were just "exercising their freedom of speech", said DPP spokesman Ruan Chao-hsiung.

Ms Tsai herself posted yesterday: "The greatness of this country is that everyone has their own rights."

She said she wants to maintain peace with China and the current status quo. China deems proudly democratic Taiwan a wayward province to be taken back, by force if need be, particularly if it makes moves towards formal independence.

In a report late on Wednesday, Chinese state television's military channel said the 31st Group Army, based in the south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen, carried out drills in "recent days", without giving an exact location. It showed amphibious armoured vehicles, helicopters firing missiles and soldiers parachuting.

But Taiwan's Defence Ministry said the pictures in the broadcast were from video clips of drills conducted last year. "It exaggerates false reporting," the ministry said on its website.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Netizens bombard Tsai's Facebook page'. Print Edition | Subscribe