China has launched an angry tirade against Taiwan’s foreign minister, evoking the words of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong to condemn him as a “shrilling” fly for his efforts to promote Taiwan internationally.
Joseph Wu, self-ruled Taiwan’s foreign minister and a fluent English speaker, is an outspoken advocate for the island amid increasing pressure from China, which claims Taiwan as its own, and appears regularly on international panels and in the media.
In a lengthy condemnation published late on Thursday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Wu was a “diehard” supporter of Taiwan independence who peddled “lies” about the island.
It quoted a poem written by Mao in 1963, The River All Red, which was a denunciation of the Soviet Union and the United States.
“All forms of comments on Taiwan independence are but flies ‘humming, with a burst of shrilling and a fit of sobbing,'” the Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the attack was “not worthy” of a response.
However, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which deals with formulating policies on China, was more strident, describing it as “slander and abuse”.
“This kind of verbal violence, unprecedented in the international community, only highlights the overstepping of the rules of the Taiwan-related body on the other side of the Taiwan Strait and how far away it is from civilised society,” the council said.
China has stepped up military and political pressure to try and force the democratically ruled island to accept Chinese sovereignty.
Taiwan has said it will defend its freedom and democracy.