Taiwan says China knows armed threats backfire on influencing elections
Taiwan says China knows armed threats backfire on influencing elections
Taiwan says China knows armed threats backfire on influencing elections
by DZRH News29 September 2023
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu attends a press conference with foreign journalists in Taipei, Taiwan September 28, 2023. REUTERS/Angie Teo

TAIPEI (Reuters) -China's leadership knows that sabre rattling around Taiwan to force an outcome to its liking in elections does not work and Beijing is not likely to try such actions ahead of January's presidential vote, the Taiwanese foreign minister said Thursday.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring democratically governed Taiwan under its control, viewing the island as one of its provinces.

In 1996, China lobbed missiles into the Taiwan Strait to try to intimidate the island's voters against voting for Lee Teng-hui as president, who Beijing despised for his perceived pro-independence sympathies. That triggered the so-called Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, in which the U.S. Navy carried out a massive show of force in the strait. Lee won the election in a landslide.

Taiwan will hold its next presidential and parliamentary election in January, with Vice President William Lai of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party the favourite to be Taiwan's next leader, according to opinion polls.


"The historical lesson is that the more China adopts a forceful way of intervening in our election, it's going to backfire, and I think the Chinese leaders know that very well," Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told a news conference in Taipei.

"So it's not likely for them to do anything major to threaten Taiwan or anything so visible that the Taiwanese people understand that they are trying to intervene in our election," he added.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has frequently lambasted Lai for comments supporting Taiwan's independence. Lai has said he does not seek to change the status quo, and has repeatedly offered talks with Beijing.

China has over the past three years stepped up military activities around Taiwan, including holding war games, and over the past month has staged drills that Beijing said were aimed at combating the "arrogance" of separatist forces.


Wu said China was preparing for a possible attack against Taiwan, including how the People's Liberation Army would deal with U.S. intervention.

"So the scale has been increasing," he said, adding that others in the region, including Japan, Australia and the United States have also been keeping a close eye on what China is doing.

Taiwan's defence ministry last week took the unusual step of announcing it was monitoring drills taking place in China's Fujian province, across the strait from the island. The ministry normally only comments on Chinese air and sea activity.

Speaking in Beijing on Thursday at a regular news conference, Wu Qian, spokesman for China's defence ministry, said Taiwan was trying to show how accurate its information was.


"Whether it is or not, let's wait and see," he said, without elaborating.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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