BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government on Wednesday accused Taiwan’s ruling party of seeking independence, a day after the self-governing island’s president lobbied for Australia’s support in joining a regional trade pact.
Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, also said the recent Chinese military drills around Taiwan were held to combat “the arrogance of Taiwan independence separatist forces.”
China claims Taiwan, an island about 160 kilometers (100 miles) off its east coast, as its territory. The two split during the civil war that brought the Communists to power in China in 1949, with the losing Nationalists setting up their own government in Taiwan.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, meeting with six visiting Australian lawmakers on Tuesday, sought their country’s support for Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation free trade agreement.
The Australian parliamentary delegation discussed strengthening economic cooperation with Taiwan, particularly in clean energy, and expressed an interest in Taiwan’s semiconductor industry.
Zhu said that any participation by Taiwan in a regional economic grouping should be handled in accordance with the “one-China principle,” which holds that the Communist Party is the government of China and Taiwan is a part of the country.
“The Democratic Progressive Party’s attempt to seek independence in the name of economy and trade will not succeed,” she said, referring to Tsai’s political party.
Zhu signaled that China would not ease up on its military activity around Taiwan.
“As long as Taiwan independence’s provocations continue, the People’s Liberation Army’s actions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity will not stop,” she said.