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‘Autocracy, not democracy is a crime’: Taiwan President on China’s death penalty threat for ‘diehard’ Taiwan independence advocates

Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te (Photo credit: Reuters)

Following China’s threat to impose the death penalty on “diehard” advocates of Taiwan independence, Taiwan President Lai Ching-te on Monday emphasised that democracy is not a crime, rather, autocracy is, reported Focus Taiwan.

The Taiwan president in a press event said, “I want to stress that democracy is not a crime, whereas autocracy is,” when asked for his views on a new set of guidelines in China that permit the death sentence for those deemed to be “diehard” advocates of Taiwan independence.

Lai further said that China has no right nor jurisdiction to punish Taiwanese people for expressing their opinions or stances, Focus Taiwan reported.

“According to China’s logic, not supporting unification equates to supporting Taiwan’s independence. So whether you are for Taiwan, the Republic of China, or the Republic of China, Taiwan, in their eyes, these all mean supporting Taiwan independence,” Lai added.

Lai stressed that only Chinese Unification Promotion Party in Taiwan is the only party that is not for Taiwan’s independence according to China’s logic.

“There is only one party in Taiwan that is not for Taiwan independence [according to China’s logic], and that is the Chinese Unification Promotion Party,” he said, adding that it is for this reason that the ruling and opposition parties should all work together and demonstrate solidarity, as reported by Focus Taiwan.

Lai further called on China to accept the existence of Taiwan and engage in exchanges with Taiwan’s legal government democratically elected by the Taiwanese people.

“This is the only way to protect the welfare of those on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Any other path means the relationship between Taiwan and China will deteriorate,” the president said.

He also expressed condolences to those impacted by the deadly rain in southern China and said he hopes post-disaster reconstruction goes well, reported Focus Taiwan.

Earlier on Friday, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) denounced the Chinese guideline threatening to punish “diehard” advocates of Taiwan independence with the death penalty, calling the move detrimental to bilateral people-to-people exchanges, Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

In a press release, the MAC called the guideline laid out by Chinese officials earlier that day “regrettable” and described it as provocative and harmful to exchanges between people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

“The Beijing authorities have no jurisdiction over Taiwan,” stated the MAC, the leading government agency handling cross-strait affairs, adding that China’s “so-called laws and regulations have no binding force on our people.”

However, the MAC also advised Taiwanese residents in China or contemplating travel there to exercise caution, according to CNA report.