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China calls Taiwan presidential frontrunner ‘destroyer of peace’ – WTOP News

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China has slammed Taiwan presidential front-runner William Lai as a “destroyer of peace” following a televised…

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China has slammed Taiwan presidential front-runner William Lai as a “destroyer of peace” following a televised debate on Saturday in which he defended Taiwan’s right to rule itself as a democracy.

Chen Binhua, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Lai’s discourse at the debate was “full of confrontational thinking.” He said Lai, who currently serves as Taiwan’s vice president with the governing Democratic People’s Party, is “the instigator of a potential dangerous war in the Taiwan Strait.”

Taiwan split from China amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing continues to regard the island of 23 million with its high-tech economy as Chinese territory and has been ramping up its threat to achieve that by military force if necessary.

Lai on Saturday said he was open to holding talks with Beijing “as long as there is equality and dignity on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.” He said Taiwan is not subordinate to China. While Lai doesn’t describe himself as seeking independence from Beijing, he generally maintains Taiwan is already an independent country.

Lai is running in the Jan. 13 presidential election against candidates Hou Yu-ih from the more China-friendly Kuomintang party, and Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party.

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