TAIPEI: Beijing should not interpret Taiwan's elections as representing a win or loss for China, Taiwan's foreign minister said on Thursday (Jan 9), days ahead of a crucial vote overshadowed by Chinese efforts to get the island to accept its rule.
Taiwan holds presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday. Its elections are always closely watched by China, which claims the island as its territory.
Taiwan says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.
"I just don't think China should read Taiwan's election as its own victory or defeat," Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters in Taipei.
"If China reads too much into our election … there might be a likely scenario that China will engage in military intimidation or diplomatic isolation or using economic measures as punishment against Taiwan."
President Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking re-election, has repeatedly warned Taiwan's people to be wary of Chinese attempts to sway the election through disinformation or military intimidation, an accusation China denies.
Wu drew attention to China's sailing of its new aircraft carrier into the sensitive Taiwan Strait late last year, calling the move a "clear" evidence of Beijing's attempts to intimidate voters.
"This is our own election. This is not China's election. It is Taiwanese people who go to the voting booth to make a judgment on which candidate or political party is better for them," Wu said.
"If China wants to play with democracies in other countries so much, maybe they can try with their own elections at some point."
The issue of China has taken centre stage in the campaign, especially after Chinese President Xi Jinping warned last year it could attack Taiwan, though said he'd prefer a peaceful "one country, two systems" formula to rule the island.