China on Wednesday came down heavily on the US invitation to self-ruled Taiwan to President Joe Biden’s virtual summit on democracy.
“Those who provide a platform for Taiwan secessionists will only bring themselves down,” Zhao Lijian, spokesman of China’s Foreign Ministry, told a news conference in Beijing.
Taiwan, which Beijing calls its “breakaway province,” is among 110 “participants” invited to attend the summit set for next month.
Washington appears to have avoided using “countries” while identifying the participants of the summit. The move is considered as a rebuke to China's insistence on a "One-China policy" when it comes to the issue of Taiwan.
Taipei has been insisting on its independence since 1949 and has established full diplomatic relations with at least 15 countries.
Those who play with fire by supporting Taiwan secessionist forces will only burn themselves, said Zhao, according to state-run media.
Taipei has confirmed the invitation and called it an “affirmation of Taiwan's efforts to promote the values of democracy and human rights over the years.”
The island nation will be represented by Digital Minister Audrey Tang and Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan's representative in Washington.
"Looking forward to Minister @audreyt (Audrey Tang) and our Representative in the US @bikhim (Hsiao Bi-khim) attending the Summit for Democracy this December. Thank you to the US government for hosting this global conference to bring countries together in defence of our shared values," Tsai Ing-wen, president of the self-ruled island, tweeted.
The invitation has been extended at a time when exchanges between Taiwan and US and its allies have increased, triggering tensions across the Taiwan Strait which has also witnessed unprecedented air and naval activities in the recent past.
The US formally recognized China in 1979 and shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, including Taiwan as part of mainland China.
The Taiwan Relations Act, a 1979 law, has guided US relations with Taiwan. Ties have also been informed by what is known as the Three Communiques, which are bilateral agreements with China.
Meanwhile, Beijing has imposed a fine of over $74 million on Far Eastern Group (FEG), a Taiwan-based company, which has spread business in provinces of China, “for violations of business regulations.”
The group is accused of being “one of the biggest sponsors of the pro-secessionists Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).”
The DPP is the ruling party on the island.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the mainland “welcomes and supports Taiwan enterprises to invest and develop on the mainland.”
“However, no one will be allowed to make money on the mainland while providing financial aid to the diehard secessionists,” said Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson of the Taiwan Affairs Office.
She added: “The fundamental purpose of cracking down on and severely punishing diehard secessionists and their donors is to safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and the vital interests of compatriots across the Taiwan Straits.”
Zhu also reiterated China’s “firm opposition” against Taiwan joining or signing any official free trade arrangement.
Along with China, Taiwan has also applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.