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China’s foreign minister calls Taiwan’s new president ‘disgraceful’

REUTERS/MARKO DJURICA/FILE PHOTO
                                Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi looks on during a meeting of the Chinese and Serbian presidents at the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 8.
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REUTERS/MARKO DJURICA/FILE PHOTO

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi looks on during a meeting of the Chinese and Serbian presidents at the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 8.

BEIJING >> Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Taiwan’s newly-inaugurated President Lai Ching-te “disgraceful” today, stepping up Beijing’s rhetoric just a day after he took office.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, believes Lai to be a “separatist”, and has rebuffed his offers of talks.

China’s government has generally avoided directly naming Lai since he won the election in January, unlike in the run-up to the vote where they regularly denounced him by name and said the election was a choice between war and peace.

Speaking at a foreign ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Kazakhstan, Wang said Taiwan was the “core of core issues” for China, and independence activities are the most destructive factor for peace in the Taiwan Strait.

“The ugly acts of Lai Ching-te and others who betray the nation and their ancestors is disgraceful,” China’s foreign ministry cited Wang as saying.

Nothing can stop China from achieving “reunification” and bringing Taiwan “back to the motherland”, he added.

“All Taiwan independence separatists will be nailed to the pillar of shame in history.”

Lai, like his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen, says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future, rejecting Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

China also admonished the United States today for sending its congratulations to Lai, after scolding South Korean and Japanese lawmakers for visiting Taiwan despite its strong opposition.

In his inauguration address on Monday, Lai asked China to stop its military and political threats, saying that peace was the only choice and that Beijing had to respect the choice of the Taiwanese people.

Lai received loud applause after reiterating that the Republic of China – Taiwan’s formal name – and the People’s Republic of China are “not subordinate to each other”, a line Tsai also took.

China views such wording as tantamount to saying China and Taiwan are different countries, a red line for Beijing.

China says any move by Taiwan to declare formal independence would be grounds to attack the island.

The government in Taipei says Taiwan is already an independent country, the Republic of China. The Republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong’s communists who set up the People’s Republic of China.

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