TAIPEI (REUTERS) - China will not change its position that Taiwan belongs to it and the world will only ever recognise that there is "one China", Beijing said on Sunday (Jan 12) after President Tsai Ing-wen won re-election and said she would not submit to China's threats, as state media warned she was courting disaster.
The election campaign was dominated by China's ramped up efforts to get democratic Taiwan to accept Beijing's rule under a "one country, two systems" model, as well as anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong.
“No matter what changes there are to the internal situation in Taiwan, the basic fact that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China will not change,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, responding to the result.
China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, to be taken by force if needed, a threat President Xi Jinping reiterated a year ago while saying he preferred a peaceful solution.
Taiwan says it is independent and refers to itself as the Republic of China, its formal name.
Tsai, who has firmly rejected China’s “one country, two systems” model, won another four-year term by a landslide, and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secured a majority in Parliament.
“Taiwan’s people once again used the vote in their hands to show the world the value of democracy,” Tsai said on Sunday when meeting the head of the United States’ de facto embassy in Taipei, Brent Christensen.
“Democracy and freedom are indeed Taiwan’s most valuable asset and the foundation of the long-term Taiwan-US partnership,” Tsai said, vowing to deepen cooperation with the United States on issues from defence to economy.
On Saturday after the scale of her victory become clear, Tsai called for talks to resume with China, but said she hoped Beijing understood Taiwan and its people won't submit to intimidation.
But the Chinese foreign ministry said China will not change its stance sticking to the “one China” principle and opposing independence for Taiwan.
“The universal consensus of the international community adhering to the ‘one China’ principle will not change either.”
China hoped the world would understand and support the "just cause" of Chinese people to oppose secessionist activities and "realise national reunification", the ministry added.
“Our government will firmly defend the sovereignty of the Republic of China and Taiwan’s democracy and freedom,” it said.
In a strongly worded commentary, China’s official Xinhua news agency said Tsai had won by deploying dirty tricks, hyping the China threat and colluding with forces in the West.
“Whether it is to curb Taiwan independence secessionist activities or to benefit Taiwan compatriots, the mainland has a full ‘policy toolbox’,” it said.
“Tsai and the DPP must be aware that they should not act wilfully because of a fluke.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Tsai on her re-election and lauded her for seeking stability with China“in the face of unrelenting pressure”.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also sent congratulations, referring to Taiwan as a “precious friend”.
China's Taiwan Affairs Office said in a separate statement on Saturday it would stick to promoting "one country, two systems" for Taiwan, a model under which Beijing runs Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy.
Many in the former British colony fear promises made under the system are not being kept.
On China’s Internet, there was unusual criticism for the Taiwan Affairs Office’s failure to win over the island, especially as Tsai’s win followed a landslide for pro-democracy candidates in Hong Kong’s local elections in November.
“What have you been doing?” wrote one user on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. “All the money you have spent and all you have done is give succour to hypocrites and traitors.”
Late on Friday, whether by design or a quirk of timing, the Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog criticised the office for not following the party line sufficiently enthusiastically and for being too bureaucratic.
The top Taiwan policy-making body is run by Liu Jieyi, a former Chinese ambassador at the United Nations.
In the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily this month, he wrote that people in Taiwan were “positively exploring” the “one country, two systems” model, but offered no evidence.