Beijing ready to help island grow while firmly opposing 'Taiwan independence'
The Chinese mainland will share development opportunities with Taiwan and at the same time firmly oppose "Taiwan independence" activities, the mainland's Taiwan affairs chief said in his New Year's greetings.
The remarks of Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, were issued a week ahead of Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen's trip to Latin America, which starts on Saturday.
Analysts said that if Tsai continued to provoke Beijing through activities such as meeting with US president-elect Donald Trump or his transitional team during her trip, Taiwan will face more punishment from the mainland following the island's loss of "diplomatic ties" with an African country last month.
Tsai's office said on Friday that she would visit Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. She will arrive in Houston on Jan 7 and leave the following day. On her return, she will arrive in San Francisco on Jan 13. It remains unclear whether she plans to meet anyone in the United States.
Zhang said that Beijing will provide more opportunities for Taiwan investors and facilitate Taiwan people's studies, living arrangements, employment and careers on the mainland. Beijing will continue to push forward cross-Straits exchanges in all areas in 2017 to benefit more grassroots people, he said.
Zhang also said Beijing has confidence and the capacity to safeguard national sovereignty. "The 'Taiwan independence' forces and their activities are cancer for the cross-Straits relationship and the biggest threat to cross-Straits peace and stability," he said.
In his New Year's address, President Xi Jinping said the Chinese people will never allow anyone to "make a great fuss" about the country's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights.
Wang Hailiang, a researcher of Taiwan studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said that Beijing will take more measures to punish Tsai if she "makes more provocations" against the one-China principle during her trip.
"Tsai's top goal is to meet with Trump before he is sworn in on Jan 20, which is unlikely to happen," he said, explaining that challenging the one-China principle will undermine the basis for the Sino-US relationship.
Trump, asked on Saturday if he would meet Tsai if she were in the US after he takes office, answered, "We'll see", the Voice of America reported.
The mainland's countermeasures could include tightened restrictions for Taiwan's participation in international activities, preventing mainland tourists from traveling to the island, and encouraging more countries to cut "diplomatic ties" with Taipei, said Jin Yong, a professor of international relationship studies at Communication University of China.
Taiwan has "diplomatic ties" with 21 countries, mainly small and island nations in Latin America, Africa and Oceania that rely on Taipei's economic assistance.