A warming of ties between the United States and North Korea does not mean Beijing will reach out to Taipei for a similar summit, the Chinese government said on Wednesday.
Singapore, the site of this week’s historic talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is also where Chinese President Xi Jinping held a landmark meeting with Taiwan’s then president Ma Ying-jeou in 2015.
But relations between mainland China and Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its sacred territory, have worsened since, especially after the election of Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party as the island’s president in 2016.
Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, dismissed the suggestion that the Trump-Kim summit could lead to a similar thawing between Beijing and Taiwan.
“The Taiwan issue is purely an internal Chinese affair. Its nature is entirely different to North Korea-US relations,” Ma told a regular news briefing in response to a question.
“Taiwan and the mainland both belong to one China, and relations across the Taiwan Strait are not state-to-state ties.”
The 2015 Xi-Ma summit was held on the political basis of opposing Taiwan independence and showed both sides of the Taiwan Strait had the ability and wisdom to resolve their own problems, Ma said, adding that any improvement in ties depended on the island’s ruling party.
In another twist in cross-strait relations, Washington formally unveiled its new de facto embassy in Taiwan on Tuesday, which it said was an indicator of robust ties and its continued commitment to helping defend the island amid escalating tensions between Taipei and mainland China.
Analysts said the move was certain to please Taipei and infuriate Beijing, which has ramped up its military presence around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bomber jets around the island.
Beijing considers Taiwan to be a breakaway Chinese province to eventually be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Tsai has also refused to acknowledge the “1992 consensus” that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan forms part of it. Beijing says the principle forms the basis of any ties between the mainland and Taiwan.
In a meeting with AIT chairman James Moriarty on Wednesday, Tsai lauded the self-ruling island’s ties with the US and expressed gratitude for Washington’s steadfast support amid mounting pressure from Beijing, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
Noting that Beijing had stepped up political and military pressure on the island by poaching its few overseas diplomatic allies and increasing air patrols close to Taiwan, she accused Beijing of “trying to alter the status quo [across the Taiwan Strait] unilaterally and fuelling tensions in the region”.
“In the face of these challenges, we really appreciate the support from the US and other like-minded nations,” she said, adding that Taiwanese people felt that the “US have got us covered”.
Additional reporting by Shi Jiangtao