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《TAIPEI TIMES》Autocracy is the real ‘evil’: president

President William Lai speaks at a news conference at the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: CNA

President William Lai speaks at a news conference at the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA

2024/06/25 03:00

OVERREACH: China has ‘absolutely no right’ to sanction Taiwanese and would become ‘more alienated’ if it does not face up to the existence of the ROC, William Lai said

By Ben Blanchard / Reuters

Democracy is not a crime and autocracy is the real “evil,” President William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday after China threatened to impose the death penalty in extreme cases for “diehard” supporters of Taiwanese independence.

China has made no secret of its dislike of Lai, who took office last month, saying he is a “separatist,” and staged war games shortly after his inauguration.

On Friday, China ramped up its pressure on Taiwan by issuing new legal guidelines to punish those it says support the nation’s formal independence, although Chinese courts have no jurisdiction over the democratically governed nation.

Asked about China’s move at a news conference at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Lai first reiterated his sympathy for recent flooding in southern China before responding.

“I want to stress: Democracy is not a crime; it’s autocracy that is the real evil. China has absolutely no right to sanction Taiwan’s people just because of the positions they hold. What’s more, China has no right to go after Taiwan people’s rights across borders,” he said.

According to China, anyone who does not uphold “reunification” is a Taiwanese independence supporter, Lai added.

Relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would become “more and more alienated” if China does not “face up to the existence of the Republic of China [Taiwan’s official name], and conduct exchanges and dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected and legitimate government,” Lai said.

“This is the correct way to enhance the well-being of people on both sides” of the Strait, he said.

Lai’s Democratic Progressive Party has long asserted Taiwanese sovereignty, and Beijing has not conducted top-level communications with Taipei since 2016, when former president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) came to power.

The government said that since Thursday, there has been a sharp increase in Chinese military flights, as Beijing carried out a “joint combat readiness patrol” near the nation.

From Thursday to Sunday, Taiwan said it detected 115 Chinese military aircraft operating nearby, getting as close at 31 nautical miles (57 km) from Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻), Taiwan proper’s southernmost tip.

Taipei has said that for the past four years China has carried out regular military activity around Taiwan as part of a “gray zone” pressure campaign.

Taiwan’s annual Han Kuang military exercises next month would aim to mimic actual combat as closely as possible given the rapidly rising “enemy threat” from China, a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Additional reporting by AFP

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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