China threatens more trade sanctions on Taiwan as election nears

China threatens more trade sanctions on Taiwan as election nears

China threatens more trade sanctions on Taiwan as election nears

The Chinese government warned Taiwan on Wednesday with further trade restrictions if the governing party “stubbornly” supports independence, escalating the battle of words as Taiwanese elections near next month.

Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections are taking place on January 13 as China, which considers the island to be its own territory, attempts to force Taiwan to recognise Chinese sovereignty claims.

Taiwan accused China this month of economic pressure and electoral meddling after Beijing announced the termination of tariff reduction on some chemical imports from the island, claiming Taipei breached a trade pact inked in 2010.

That came after China said it had determined Taiwan had put up trade barriers in contravention of both World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and the 2010 trade deal.

Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, Chen Binhua, spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the “root cause” of resolving problems related to the 2010 deal was Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) adherence to the island’s formal independence.

“If the DPP authorities are determined to persevere, continue to stubbornly adhere to their Taiwan independence position, and refuse to repent, we support the relevant departments taking further measures in accordance with the regulations,” Chen said.

China detests both the DPP and its presidential candidate, current Vice President Lai Ching-te, who is leading in the polls, believing they are separatists.

Lai says he has no plans to change the island’s formal name, the Republic of China, but that only Taiwan’s people can decide their future. He has also repeatedly offered talks with China but has been rebuffed.

The defeated republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists who founded the People’s Republic of China.

Chen said Taiwan was “facing a crossroads” about where to go, and that anything can be discussed on the basis of opposing Taiwan’s independence. He reiterated that Taiwan independence means war.

However, Chen also extended his “heartfelt thanks” to Taiwanese companies which had donated money to help deal with the aftermath of an earthquake in a remote part of northwestern China this month which killed 1949 people.

But he made no mention of condolences by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to China after the disaster and offers of help from her government.