China accused Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen of aggravating tension across the Taiwan Strait on Friday, citing her comments following the death of Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo as an example of “repeated arbitrary attacks”. Tsai said on Thursday that the self-ruled island hoped China could show self-confidence and promote political reform, after the dissident Liu died of cancer. “Only through democracy, in which every Chinese person has freedom and respect, can China truly become a proud and important country,” she said.
Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying that such “reckless” comments were “very dangerous” for cross-strait relations. Liu, who died aged 61, was sentenced to 11 years jail in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms. Reiterating the Chinese government’s line, Ma said Liu was sentenced due to violating the law and that “China made all-out efforts to treat him humanely in accordance with the law”.
Beijing distrusts Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) because it traditionally advocates independence for Taiwan. Beijing says the island is part of China and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.
Ma said Tsai and the DPP had “lifted the deceptive veil” of maintaining the status quo in cross-strait relations and that the repeated attacks were an attempt to pull ties back to “tensity and turbulence”. “Such behaviour is very dangerous,” he said, according to the Xinhua report, which was carried only in English.
China has bristled previously at Tsai’s comments on China’s political system. In June, it issued an angry response when Tsai offered to help China transition to democracy while marking the 28th anniversary of 1989’s violent suppression of pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.