China will make people who support Taiwan independence criminally liable for life, according to a spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei.
On Friday, the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing warned that “the mainland will pursue criminal responsibility for Taiwan independence diehards in accordance with the law, to be effective for life”.
This is the first time that China has spelt out concretely the punishment for people deemed to be pro-Taiwan independence.
China claims Taiwan as its territory – to be seized one day, by force if necessary – and has intensified efforts in recent years to isolate the self-ruled island on the international stage.
The office on Friday named Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang, parliament Speaker You Si-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu as people who are “stubbornly pro-Taiwan independence”, and made public for the first time it has drawn up a list of people who fall into this category.
China will enforce punishment on the people on the list, by not letting them enter the mainland and China’s Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau said spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian in a statement on Friday.
The blacklisted people will not be allowed to cooperate with entities or people from the mainland, nor will their companies or entities who fund them be allowed to profit from the mainland, she said.
Taiwanese politicians partially rely on donations from companies to fund their election campaigns.
Many Taiwanese companies derive profits from doing business with the mainland. Tens of thousands of Taiwanese currently work in the mainland.
China will also take “any other necessary measures” against these people, Zhu said.
She said the message China wants to send to supporters of Taiwan independence is: “Those who forget their ancestors, betray the motherland and split the country, will never end up well and will be spurned by the people and judged by history.”
Jessica Drun, non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, said that there will likely be a “blanket application” of the policy towards China’s interpretation of what is “pro-independence”.
“Essentially anyone that doesn’t fall in line within the rigid bounds of Beijing’s ‘One China’ Principle,” Drun said.
“Those who are of Han decent and have family in China and Hong Kong will be disproportionally affected given the PRC’s stringent notion of ‘betraying the motherland.'”
With additional reporting by Erin Hale in Taiwan