BEIJING China’s 1.3 billion people are united in their determination never to allow self-ruled Taiwan to become independent, China’s top official in charge of ties with the island was quoted as saying on Thursday, in Beijing’s latest blast at Taipei.
China has repeatedly warned Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, whose leader Tsai Ing-wen assumed the presidency last week, of negative consequences if they fail to recognise Taiwan is a part of China under Beijing’s “one China” principle.
Tsai has said democratic principles will rule Taiwan’s ties with Beijing and urged China in her inaugural speech Friday to “set aside the baggage of history” and engage in positive dialogue.
Meeting a group of Taiwan business representatives in Beijing, Zhang Zhijun, head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said anything that goes against the “one China” principle would only bring tension and upheaval to ties.
“There is no future in Taiwan independence, and this cannot become an option for Taiwan’s future. This is the conclusion of history,” the official Xinhua news agency cited Zhang as saying.
“Some people say you must pay attention to broad public opinion in Taiwan, and that one can understand the attitude and feelings of Taiwan’s people formed by its special historical experiences and social environment,” Zhang added.
“But, Taiwan society ought to understand and attach importance to the feelings of the 1.37 billion residents of the mainland,” he said.
China has regarded Taiwan as a wayward province, to be taken by force if necessary, ever since defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after a civil war with China’s Communists.
Referring to late 19th and early 20th century period when foreign powers strove to carve off bits of the declining Chinese empire for themselves, Zhang said China’s people had a deep memory of that period of national weakness and humiliation.
“They have a rock-solid will that has remained consistent towards protecting national unity and not allowing the country to be split,” he added.
The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s ministerial agency in charge of ties with China, said in response to Zhang’s comments that Tsai has said she is committed to ensuring the status quo in relations with China and to maintaining peace and stability.
China does not permit public discussion of views which challenge the notion of Taiwan being a part of China.
Taiwan was a Japanese colony from 1895-1945, having gained control of the island from imperial China.
Many Taiwanese have a broadly positive view of Japanese rule, saying it brought progress to an undeveloped, largely agricultural island.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by J.R. Wu in Taipei; Editing by Nick Macfie)