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The West congratulates – Beijing is angry

Taiwan has elected China critic Lai as president and the West congratulates. The congratulations from the USA in particular anger China. Washington is sending a “wrong signal.” Taiwan is expecting a US delegation in the evening.

The Chinese government has officially complained to the USA about Washington's declaration on the election in Taiwan. The US was violating its own commitment to only maintain cultural and trade relations or other unofficial exchanges with Taiwan, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said. This sends “a wrong signal to the separatist forces” in Taiwan. The Taiwan issue is at the center of China's core interests and represents the “first red line” that must not be crossed in relations between China and the USA.

The previous Vice President Lai Ching-te won the presidential election on Saturday. He advocates for Taiwan's independence. China views the democratically governed and industrially highly developed Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland – if necessary with military force.

The US State Department sent congratulations on Saturday following Lai's victory. The U.S. State Department said it looks forward to working with Lai and leaders of all parties in Taiwan to advance shared interests and values ​​and advance the long-standing unofficial relationship. The USA is a close ally of Taiwan and had promised defense help in the event of a conflict with China.

Taiwan objects to statements from Beijing

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said in a statement: “The Taiwan issue is an internal matter. Whatever changes take place in Taiwan, the fundamental fact that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China will not change change.”

Taiwan responded immediately and protested against “misleading comments” from China about the outcome of the elections. The statement in question is “completely incompatible with international understanding and the current situation in the Taiwan Strait.” It contradicts the will of the Taiwanese people and the expectations of democratic communities worldwide.

Germany for “maintaining the status quo”

In addition to the USA, numerous other governments also congratulated the election winners in Taiwan and paid tribute to the country's democratic tradition. The federal government announced:

The free and peaceful elections in Taiwan have once again shown how strongly rooted democracy is in Taiwan and how strongly the voters are connected to democratic values.

The Federal Government congratulates all voters, the candidates who took part in these elections and those elected, said a spokesman for the Foreign Office. It continued: “Germany maintains close and good relations with Taiwan in many areas and would like to further expand these, in line with Germany's one-China policy.”

Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are crucial for the region and far beyond. “Germany is committed to maintaining the status quo and building trust.” A change in the status quo should only take place peacefully and by mutual agreement. “We hope that both sides will continue to advance their efforts to resume dialogue.”

Congratulations from Europe

Congratulations also came from Britain: Foreign Secretary David Cameron congratulated Lai and the DPP on his victory and said he hoped Taiwan and China would renew their efforts to find a peaceful solution to their differences. “Today's elections are a testament to Taiwan's vibrant democracy,” he said in a statement. “I hope that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will renew their efforts to resolve differences peacefully through constructive dialogue, without the threat or use of force or coercion.”

The EU also welcomed the outcome of the election. A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said we would like to congratulate all voters who took part in this democratic exercise. Taiwan and the EU share a commitment to democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

France hopes for a resumption of dialogue between Taipei and Beijing. Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are crucial, the Foreign Ministry said in Paris. All sides should respect the status quo. Paris also hopes that its relationship with Taiwan will continue to deepen. The elections have once again shown that Taiwan's citizens are committed to democratic values, the rule of law and human rights.

US delegation expected in Taipei in the evening

In the evening, a US delegation arrives in Taiwan for an unofficial visit. As in previous elections, the U.S. government asked former U.S. government officials to come to Taiwan privately, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, the unofficial U.S. mission in Taipei. Accordingly, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg set off. Meetings with leading politicians are planned for Monday.

Sharp criticism of Japan from Beijing

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa also congratulated, saying: “We expect the Taiwan issue to be resolved peacefully through dialogue, thereby contributing to peace and stability in the region.” Their congratulations were met with outrage in Beijing. The Chinese embassy in Tokyo described the minister's statement as “serious interference in China's internal affairs.” Before the vote, the government in Beijing described Lai as a dangerous separatist.

According to official information, China sees no reason to change course. This election cannot change the general trend toward “inevitable reunification” with the mainland, Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Chen Binhua said in Beijing. “The results of the two elections show that the Democratic Progressive Party is unable to represent prevailing public opinion,” he said.

Lai had called on China on Saturday evening to maintain peace in the strait between the two states. “Global peace depends on peace in the Taiwan Strait,” he said. At the same time, he expressed his willingness to cooperate with China.

Background: China-Taiwan conflict

The dispute over Taiwan's status dates back to the Chinese Civil War, when the troops of the national Chinese Kuomintang fled to Taiwan after their defeat by the communists under Mao Tsetung. The communist People's Republic was founded in Beijing in 1949, while Taiwan developed into a liberal democracy as the “Republic of China”.

However, Beijing sees the island as its own territory. With its One China doctrine, Beijing demands that no country be allowed to maintain diplomatic and other official relations with the island republic if it wants to maintain a normal relationship with the People's Republic.

Eva Lamby-Schmitt, ARD Shanghai, tagesschau, January 14, 2024 11:41 a.m

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