Taipei—China’s refusal to talk to Taiwan’s government is part of a “deliberate campaign” to undermine the island’s democracy, President Tsai Ing-wen warned Saturday, capping a week of escalating rhetoric between the two sides.
Tensions between Taiwan and China have risen since Tsai came to power in 2016, as she has refused to acknowledge that the self-ruled island is part of “one China.”
Beijing has unilaterally cut off communication with her government and stepped up military drills around the island as well as poached several of its dwindling number of official allies.
In a landmark speech on Wednesday, President Xi Jinping described Taiwan’s unification with the mainland as “inevitable,” adding Beijing is willing to discuss political as well as “peaceful unification” issues with political parties and groups in Taiwan that recognise the “one China” principle.
He also reiterated China’s willingness to use force if necessary, especially if Taiwan ever declares full independence.
On Saturday Tsai criticized Beijing’s plan to engage in political negotiations with opposition parties rather than her government as “a continuation of its deliberate campaign to undermine and subvert our democratic process and create division in our society.”
“At a time when we are exhausting efforts to avoid provocation and miscommunication, China’s actions are unhelpful and in contrary to democratic practises,” she said in a briefing with foreign media.
She stressed that it would be impossible for her government or any responsible Taiwanese politician to accept Xi’s recent remarks “without betraying the trust and will of the people of Taiwan.”
She was also referring to Xi’s calls for unification under a “one country, two systems” approach, which was implemented in Hong Kong after Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.
China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since they split in 1949 after a civil war.
Taiwanese frustration has also been intensified by suspicions that Beijing is not doing enough to inform its neighbour about an outbreak of African swine fever on the mainland.
Taiwan’s livestock exports have in the past been hammered by disease outbreaks from the mainland.
The discovery this week of infected pig carcasses on a Taiwanese island close to China’s shoreline, which authorities believed floated over, has added to a sense of urgency and frustration in Taipei.
“I urge the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to intervene and call on countries in the region to engage in outbreak prevention,” Tsai said Saturday.