The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday accused China of trying to influence Saturday's election and referendum by staging a large joint exercise off Qingdao with Chinese and French warships.
"China launched the massive military drill with France just four days before Taiwan's 11th presidential election and first-ever national referendum, intending to intimidate our country and influence election and referendum results," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said Beijing's attempt at influencing the election was "absolutely unacceptable."
The joint exercise marked the largest naval drill China has ever conducted with a foreign country, according to Chinese state media and officials.
The foreign ministry said it also deeply regretted France's decision to take part in the naval exercise when Taiwan's presidential election and referendum are so close.
The ministry said this followed recent French remarks and actions against Taiwan, including President Jacques Chirac's public opposition to the referendum in January and France's proposal that the EU lift its ban on weapons sales to China.
"The present timing is sensitive because of the presidential election and referendum. France did not consider the sensitive timing, instead deciding to carry out the largest and most complicated naval drill it has ever had with China," the ministry statement said.
Remarking that the government could not understand why France was taking an anti-Taiwan stance, the ministry said it expressed its "serious concerns and dissatisfaction" to the French Institute in Taipei last night.
"We demand the French authorities offer a reasonable explanation of this [the naval drill]," according to the statement.
China's foreign ministry said it "disagreed with" the accusations that the naval drill with France was in any way related to Taiwan's election.
"In recent years, the development of relations between the two countries [China and France] and the two militaries has been growing smoothly," China's foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao (劉建超) said yesterday.