China said on Friday (5) that it will criminally punish Taiwanese pro-independence politicians and activists, in a context of tension between Beijing and Taipei that has not been seen for years.
The Taiwanese affairs office in Beijing has warned that mainland China “will retain criminal responsibility” against Taiwanese activists “for the rest of their lives”.
This is the first time that China has announced concrete punishment for Taiwanese pro-independence activists. The country has not ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control, despite the Taiwanese government’s assertion that it is an independent nation and that it will defend its freedom and democracy.
In a statement, Chinese government agency spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian publicly admitted for the first time to having a list of people who “tried to foment a confrontation across the strait [entre a China e Taiwan], attacked and maliciously slandered the continent […] and deteriorated relations between the two parties.” Among them, Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang, Taiwanese Parliament Speaker Yu Shyi-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
China, land in the middle
Anyone on that list is banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, according to Zhu, and will also not be able to collaborate with organizations or individuals on the mainland.
“The Taiwanese prime minister repudiated Beijing’s threats and said “he will not be impressed.”
This Friday (5), the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s main decision-making body on relations with China, declared “unacceptable intimidation and threats from an authoritarian government.” “Taiwan is a democratic society, in which law reigns, and it is not under the jurisdiction of any other place,” adds the statement, which states that “the Taiwanese people will not make concessions.”
Taiwan became, in 1949, at the end of the Chinese civil war, the refuge of the defeated nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek. Since then, its 23 million inhabitants live under threat of invasion.
Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the island, has stepped up its efforts in recent years to isolate Taipei internationally and prevent any attempt at recognition as an independent state.
China has also increased its military activity in the area, breaking the record for combat aircraft incursions in October.