China urges US: Don't let Taipei group attend inauguration

A cross-strait row has broken out over the presence of a Taiwanese delegation at the US presidential inauguration, with Taiwan telling China not to be so "narrow-minded".
A cross-strait row has broken out over the presence of a Taiwanese delegation at the US presidential inauguration, with Taiwan telling China not to be so "narrow-minded".PHOTO: NYTIMES

BEIJING • A cross-strait row has broken out over the presence of a Taiwanese delegation at the US presidential inauguration, with Taiwan telling China not to be so "narrow-minded".

Former premier Yu Shyi-kun is leading Taipei's delegation as dignitaries from around the world descend on the US capital for Mr Donald Trump's swearing-in.

Beijing this week urged Washington to bar the self-ruling island it sees as a renegade province and part of "one China" to be reunified.

"We urge again the American side not to allow any Taiwanese official delegation to attend the US presidential inauguration ceremony and not to have any kind of official contact with Taiwan," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing yesterday.

It prompted Mr Yu to hit back.

"Don't be so small," Mr Yu was quoted as saying by Taiwan's state Central News Agency. "There hasn't been any leader with such a narrow mind in all Chinese dynasties," he added, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Taiwanese delegations have attended presidential inaugurations in previous years, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties.

A spokesman for Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, which handles China affairs, called Beijing's rhetoric "unhelpful", and said there is no need for China "to restrict or suppress Taiwan's regular interactions and exchanges with the US".

Mr Trump broke with decades of precedent last month by taking a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and angered Beijing when he said that the "one China" policy is up for negotiation. Last week, pro-Taiwan members of the House of Representatives introduced the Taiwan Travel Act to encourage visits between the US and Taiwan at all levels.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'China urges US: Don't let Taipei group attend inauguration'. Print Edition | Subscribe