Democracy Not Crime, Autocracy Crime: Taiwan President Slams Beijing

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 24 June: The president of Taiwan, Lai Ching-te, today slammed China’s threat of the death penalty for Taiwan’s independence advocates, saying, “Democracy is not a crime; it’s autocracy that is the real evil,” alluding to the autocratic communist regime that rules China.

Amid China’s perpetual pressure on Taiwan, which it claims as part of its territory, Beijing on Friday issued new judicial guidelines that included the death penalty for “particularly serious” cases involving “diehard” supporters of Taiwanese independence, according to online media reports.

Defending democratic values and condemning autocracy, Lai said, “China has no right to punish the people of Taiwan just because of what they advocate. China has no right to pursue cross-border prosecution of Taiwanese people.”

Despite being democratically elected as president of the island, China has branded Lai as a “dangerous separatist” and denounced his inaugural speech as a “confession of Taiwan independence.” However, Lai, in his speech, signaled openness to resuming dialogue with Beijing and called for exchanges from both sides.

“If China does not face up to the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan’s official name) and conduct exchanges and dialogues with Taiwan’s democratically elected and legitimate government,” Lai warned that relations between the two countries would become “more and more alienated.”

On the other hand, China continues its bullying tactics by maintaining naval vessels and warplanes around the island. According to Taiwan’s military statement on Monday, 23 Chinese warplanes and seven naval vessels had been detected in the last 24 hours.

Xi Jinping has vowed to “reunify” Taiwan with China, saying that the use of “force” is on the table to achieve the goal, while the US has vowed to stand by Taiwan to maintain the status quo as it is.

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