China Embassy says no such thing as ‘president’ of Taiwan region

The Taiwanese leader William Lai Ching-te had congratulated PM Narendra Modi on the Lok Sabha election victory, which was objected by China

Updated - June 08, 2024 10:48 am IST

Published - June 08, 2024 10:03 am IST

William Lai Ching-te celebrating his election victory in Taipei, Taiwan in January. Image for representation

William Lai Ching-te celebrating his election victory in Taipei, Taiwan in January. Image for representation | Photo Credit: AP

A day after the Chinese Foreign Ministry objected to an exchange of congratulatory messages between Taiwanese President William Lai Ching-te and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi reiterated Beijing’s objection and declared Taiwan is an “inalienable part” of China. The protest by the Chinese mission came two days after Taiwan’s President congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“There is no such thing as ‘president’ of the Taiwan region. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. This is an undeniable fact, a universal consensus of the international community and a basic norm in international relations,” said the Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in India in a social media post on X.

Several global leaders congratulated Mr. Modi after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won a majority in the recent Lok Sabha election. On June 5, President Lai congratulated Mr. Modi on X, expressing Taiwan’s resolve to expand partnership with India “on trade, technology and other sectors.

Responding to the message, Mr. Modi thanked the Taiwanese leader and expressed hope for “closer ties” that would enhance “mutually beneficial economic and technological partnership.” The Prime Minister did not address Mr. Lai as ‘President’.

In response to a question from the media in Beijing about the exchange between the Taiwanese President and Mr. Modi, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Thursday, “First of all, there is no such thing as ‘president’ of the Taiwan region.” She said India has made “serious political commitments” about Beijing’s long-held position on Taiwan.

The Ministry of External Affairs did not make an official statement regarding this matter.

Taiwan hits back

On Friday, Taiwanese Foreign Ministry hit back at Beijing saying, “China’s outrage at a cordial exchange between the leaders of two democracies is utterly unjustified. Threats & intimidation never foster friendships. Taiwan remains dedicated to building partnerships with India underpinned by mutual benefit and shared values.”

Earlier on Thursday, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller had waded into the issue while responding to a question from the media and said, “Such congratulatory messages are normal course of diplomatic business.”

The exchange between Beijing and Taiwan over President Lai’s congratulatory message to PM Modi has come after weeks of military exercise by Chinese forces near the Taiwan coastline. On 23 May, China’s Eastern Command of the People’s Liberation Army launched a two-day military exercise, titled “Joint Li Chien-2024A”, around Taiwan.

The deployment of naval and air assets by the PLA came soon after Taiwan inaugurated the presidency of William Lai Ching-te.  Opposing the Chinese military exercise, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence said, “We seek no conflicts, but we will not shy away from one. We have the confidence to safeguard our national security.”

The military movements by China have continued and Taiwan detected Chinese aircraft and naval vessels near its coast even on Friday.

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