Following the election of Taiwan’s pro-independence candidate for president this week, Chinese have taken to Facebook, despite the ban to criticize, the president-elect on her page. Meanwhile, the Chinese military has been engaged in amphibious landings and live-fire exercises.
Taiwan elects Tsai Ing-wen, China takes to Facebook
Despite the presence of “The Great Firewall” and a Chinese Facebook ban, thousands from the mainland have headed to the social media giant to criticize the beliefs of the next president of Taiwan.
“Taiwan is such a poor and backward place, do you still have any face to talk? What is the use of talking about this without any power? Do you have a say in the international community? If you have guts, declare independence,” wrote one critic.
“Your root is here, come back soon, this will only make our Chinese nationality lose face,” added another in a less combative post.
The Chinese government has been tepid in its response to her election maintaining that it’s still committed to good cross-straight relations with the island nation that is not a nation at all in the eyes of the Beijing government. Chiang Kai-shek famously fled to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War and in November of 1949, declaring Taipei the “wartime capital” of the Republic of China. Roughly two million soldiers, members of the ruling Kuomintang as well as business and intellectual elites were evacuated to Taiwan and joined the existing population of around six million primarily Han Chinese.
While China has stated that it wants good relations with Taiwan and her new president, China has long maintained its sovereignty over Taiwan and has made it abundantly clear that any declaration of independence would be treated as an act of war.
Chinese military exercises directly opposite the Straight of Taiwan
China Central Television has been airing clips of parachuting troops, amphibious landing craft firing its guns onto land with attack helicopters getting in on the fun with their own air-to-ground missiles. The units involved in the exercises are part of the 31st army group based in Xiamen, Fujian province just across the Taiwan Strait. In comments about the drills, the Chinese military made no mention of the Taiwanese election and did not declare where the exercises took place, only that they had taken place “in recent days.”
Wisely, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry has said very little publicly about the exercises stating only that it was “aware of the information” according to Reuters.
This silence was not repeated by Steve Lin, first deputy minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, whose ministry is in charge of China affairs.
“…We’ll raise our military deployment, and at the same time we’ll deal with it via reasonable dialogue with the Chinese side. After all, it’s both sides’ responsibility to maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait” he added.
Military exercises are nothing new for the two nations and China has essentially showed the island nation how it would go about an invasion on numerous occasions. Any invasion, even by the world’s largest military by number of enlisted, would likely be preceded by a barrage of missiles fired from the mainland. Experts believe that China has thousands of missiles at the ready already targeting Taiwan.
Just last year, Chinese television aired footage of soldiers storming a mock-up of what will be Tsai’s new residence, the Taiwan Presidential Palace.
Tsai’s election does not mean any inevitable crumbling of relations between the two nations. That said, Tom Clancy type writers have used a conflict between the two in numerous novels to mark the beginning of World War III.