A Chinese government spokesperson on Wednesday accused Taiwan’s vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim of using deception to win votes after she advocated for dialogue with Beijing as the way to resolve cross-Strait differences.
Hsiao resigned from her position as Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States on Nov. 20 – the same day she was announced as running mate to ruling Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate William Lai (Lai Ching-te) for the Jan. 13 election.
Last week Hsiao said that “war is not an option” for Taiwan with China and that “dialogue is the only way to resolve differences.”
Chen Binhua, spokesperson for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, claimed that Hsiao’s statements were “nothing more than an attempt to disguise the nature and harm of ‘Taiwan independence,’ and gain votes through deception,” according to state news agency Xinhua on Wednesday.
“There are no obstacles for any political party or group in Taiwan to communicate with us, as long as they uphold the political foundation of the 1992 Consensus,” he said.
The term ‘1992 Consensus’ was created by Taiwanese politician and academic Su Chi to reflect a supposed tacit agreement between Taipei and Beijing to recognize that there is only “one China,” although each party has interpreted it in its own way.
The Lai-Hsiao duo, announced last week, leads the polling with stable support at around 30 percent.
Their path to victory now looks smoother after the opposition Kuomintang and the Taiwan People’s Party failed to agree on a coalition to challenge them.
Earlier this month, Lai rejected claims that his election would heighten the risk of war with China.
While the country must be open to “being friends with China,” national security and peace cannot depend on Beijing’s goodwill alone and should not come at the price of Taiwan’s sovereignty, he said.
The result of the election will determine the course of Taiwan’s policy towards China amid growing tensions between Taipei and Beijing that have been constant since the 2016 election of the current president, Tsai Ing-wen, who after two terms in office is not eligible to run for a third.
Taiwan has been governed autonomously since 1949, although China claims sovereignty over the island, which it considers a rebel province and with which it has not ruled out “reunification” by use of force