China’s state-run media yesterday warned president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) against pursuing a pro-independence path and that a formal split from China would be a “dead end.”
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a landslide victory on Saturday, as Taiwanese voters turned their backs on closer ties with China.
The DPP has traditionally backed independence for Taiwan, but Tsai has moderated its rhetoric, promising to maintain the “status quo” with China.
However, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Taiwan Studies head Zhou Zhihuai (周志懷) wrote in the Chinese-language edition of the Global Times newspaper that if Tsai “parts ways with the mainland, she will go down a dead end.”
Beijing “will not hold unrealistic delusions” about Tsai, Zhou said, adding that whether cross-strait relations take “the road of peace or antagonism, it’s up to Tsai Ing-wen to make the choice.”
Taiwanese support for Tsai and the DPP surged after voters became increasingly uneasy about a rapprochement with China under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Tsai wasted no time in warning China that “suppression” would harm cross-strait ties, in her first comments to international media following her win, saying that “our democratic system, national identity and international space must be respected.”
In the English-language edition of the Global Times, columnist Zhang Hua (張華) — from the same institution as Zhou — accused Tsai of a “hypocritical cover-up for her pro-independence advocacy.”
An editorial in yesterday’s English-language China Daily newspaper insisted that the KMT lost the election due to issues such as rising unemployment and inequality, rather than its Beijing-friendly approach.
However, it added that Tsai’s policy towards China “remains ambiguous.”
“She has a responsibility to keep the peaceful development of cross-strait relations on track,” it said.
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