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HomeWorldTaiwan President condemns China's threats against separatism, says "Democracy is Not a Crime"

Taiwan President condemns China’s threats against separatism, says “Democracy is Not a Crime”

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Taiwan President Lai Ching-te issued a strong rebuke on Monday following China’s threat to impose the death penalty in extreme cases for “diehard” Taiwan independence separatists.

Lai emphasized that “democracy is not a crime; it’s autocracy that is the real evil,” and condemned China’s lack of authority to sanction Taiwanese citizens for their political positions.

China, which considers Taiwan its own territory, has openly criticized Lai since he took office last month, labeling him a “separatist” and conducting military exercises shortly after his inauguration. On Friday, China intensified its pressure by issuing new legal guidelines targeting supporters of Taiwan’s formal independence, despite Chinese courts having no jurisdiction over the democratically governed island.

In a news conference at the presidential office in Taipei, Lai expressed sympathy for recent flooding in southern China before addressing the threats. He stated, “China has absolutely no right to sanction Taiwan’s people just because of the positions they hold. What’s more, China has no right to go after Taiwan people’s rights across borders.”

Lai called on China to acknowledge the Republic of China’s existence and engage in dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected government. He warned that failure to do so would further estrange relations between Taiwan and China.

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Taiwan reported a sharp increase in Chinese military flights near the island since Thursday, with 115 Chinese military aircraft detected operating nearby between Thursday and Sunday. This activity is part of China’s ongoing “grey zone” pressure campaign against Taiwan.

In response to rising threats, Taiwan’s annual Han Kuang war games next month will aim to closely simulate actual combat. Lai reaffirmed that only Taiwan’s people can decide their future and reiterated his offer for talks with China, which has been consistently rejected.

Taiwan maintains that it is already an independent country, the Republic of China, and does not plan to change this status. This stance stems from the historical context of the Republican government fleeing to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s Communists.

Domestically, Lai faces challenges as his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost its majority in parliament in the January election that brought him to power. Lai announced plans to ask the constitutional court to review a contested package of parliament reforms passed by the opposition, which the DPP claims were forced through without proper discussion.

The opposition argues that the reforms, which include criminalizing contempt of parliament by government officials, are necessary for increased accountability. The DPP, however, contends that the process lacked adequate debate.

The ongoing tension underscores the complexities of Taiwan-China relations and the internal political dynamics within Taiwan as Lai navigates his presidency.

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