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China reacts to pivotal Taiwan presidential election

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Taiwan and China flags together textile cloth, fabric texture

Oleksii Liskonih | Istock | Getty Images

TAIPEI — China dismissed the outcome of Taiwan’s Saturday elections, saying its ruling Democratic Progressive Party does not represent mainstream public opinion after it failed to win a majority in the presidential and legislative votes.

“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan,” Chen Binhua, the spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Saturday after DPP’s Lai Ching-te emerged as the winner of the self-governing island’s presidential contest with more than 40% of the popular vote.

“This election cannot change the basic pattern and the development of cross-Strait relations, nor can it change the common desire of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to draw closer,” Chen added, according to a CNBC translation of a report from Xinhua, the official state news agency.

Beijing has framed the self-ruled island’s election as a choice between “peace and war, prosperity and decline” — with Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding reunification with the mainland “a historical inevitability.” Beijing has repeatedly labeled Lai as a “stubborn worker for Taiwan independence” and a dangerous separatist.

China has never relinquished its claim over Taiwan — which has been self-governing since the Chinese Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, fled to the island following its defeat in the Chinese civil war in 1949.

The outcome of Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections will likely shape China’s posture toward the island, while also influencing China-U.S. relations and security in the broader Indo-Pacific region.

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