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China threatens to blacklist Taiwanese independence supporters

Beijing claims it will severely punish independence advocates in accordance with Chinese law

President Tsai Ing-wen (center) 

President Tsai Ing-wen (center)  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Chinese government said on Wednesday (Nov. 25) that it is contemplating a blacklist of “diehard” supporters of Taiwanese independence.

The idea was first floated by pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao earlier this month, according to Reuters. Chinese English tabloid the Global Times has said the list could include senior Taiwanese government officials.

Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory. In fact, Taiwan has its own democratically elected government, judicial system and laws, currency, and military. In addition, Taiwanese society enjoys the freedoms of speech, press, and religion, in stark contrast with China.

Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮), spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the “list of diehard Taiwan secessionists” now being considered will only target a small number of independence supporters and those who fund them, Reuters reported. “It is absolutely not aimed at the vast majority of Taiwan compatriots,” Zhu said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

The Chinese spokeswoman gave no further details or timeframe, saying only that China would take “targeted steps to severely punish in accordance with the law” those it viewed as supporting independence. Chinese media have said the 2005 Anti-Secession Law, which Beijing created to give itself the right to attack Taiwan if the latter declares formal independence, as well as national security legislation, could be used to charge Taiwanese individuals placed on the list, the report said.

However, as Chinese courts have no jurisdiction in Taiwan and Taiwanese leaders of government do not typically visit China, save for a few pro-China KMT politicians, it is unclear how Beijing will use the blacklist to affect any actual change.