China has called the Feb 28 Taiwanese uprising a part of the Chinese people's struggle for liberation, and accused the island's separatist elements of distorting historical facts for "ulterior motives".
The comments were made by a Chinese official from the Taiwan Affairs Office yesterday, days ahead of the 70th anniversary of a massacre on Feb 28, 1947, carried out by Kuomintang troops to quell an anti- government uprising sparked by an incident involving an inspector who beat up a woman selling untaxed cigarettes in Taipei.
Commonly called the 228 Incident in Taiwan, it led to four decades of martial law and has become an important rallying point for the Taiwanese independence movement in recent years.
Feb 28 is an official public holiday marked by memorial events across Taiwan. The independent-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government will hold a ceremony at Taipei's 228 Peace Memorial Park on the day.
At a regular press conference yesterday, China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan called the incident "just action" against tyranny, and described attempts by pro-independence elements in Taiwan to use the occasion for other purposes as "very despicable".
"For a long time, this incident has been used by certain Taiwan independence forces for ulterior motives," he said. "They have distorted historical fact, instigated contradictions based on provincial origin, tearing at Taiwan's ethnic groups, creating antagonism in society."
Mr An also attributed the decline in mainland tourist visits to Taiwan in the past year to the current cross-straits political climate, which has deteriorated since Ms Tsai Ing-wen took office as Taiwan's President last May.
The DPP's Ms Tsai has refused to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus - a tacit agreement that there is one China, open to interpretation by both sides. China responded by cutting official contact with the island.
The number of Chinese tourist arrivals in Taiwan was 2.73 million last year, down 18 per cent compared with the previous year and down 33 per cent since last May.
"Changes in the Taiwanese authorities' policy towards China have led to the deterioration of the environment and atmosphere of cross-strait relations, and affected the enthusiasm and willingness of mainland tourists to visit Taiwan," he said.