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‘Republic of China Taiwan’ exists no matter how much Beijing ignores ‘median line’, Taipei says

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The “Republic of China Taiwan exists” despite Beijing’s efforts to ignore it by sending more warplanes across the de facto dividing line between them in the Taiwan Strait, Taipei said on Tuesday.

The remarks followed a series of tit-for-tat exchanges this week in which Taipei accused Beijing of “continuous military harassment” of the self-ruled island, and Beijing insisted that the so-called median line did not exist.

It culminated with the island’s foreign ministry blasting Beijing for “ignoring the international reality and objective fact that Taiwan is not subject to China’s jurisdiction”.

“We reiterate that the Republic of China Taiwan is a sovereign and independent state,” Taiwanese foreign ministry spokesman Jeff Liu said, adding that neither side was subordinate to the other.

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The unofficial median line in the Taiwan Strait, drawn in the 1950s, reportedly by US general Benjamin Davis, to separate the two sides, has for decades helped minimise unintended incidents, as both sides avoided crossing it.

But in late 2020, Beijing started sending planes to cross the median line in what analysts said was a way to gradually normalise its presence in the area.

Beijing has vowed to bring the island under its control by force, if necessary. It has ramped up pressure on Taiwan by poaching its allies, staging war games nearby and sending warplanes to unnerve Taipei on almost a daily basis.

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The efforts follow the refusal of the Democratic Progressive Party’s administration to accept the one-China principle.

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On Tuesday, Liu underscored the DPP’s position by referring to the island’s official title which has been used interchangeably as the ROC or Taiwan and sometimes “ROC Taiwan” by the DPP government.

Taiwan is diplomatically recognised by 13 allies as the Republic of China but no country has recognised the island as ROC Taiwan.

Liu said the mainland had never ruled Taiwan, adding “this is a fact and a reality commonly recognised by international society”.

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“Regardless of how the Chinese government distorts its claim over Taiwan, there is no way it can change the objective fact that our country exists” in the world, he said.

Liu also said a map staking the mainland’s claims to the region was an example of Beijing’s “ignorance” of international politics and law.

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In late August, Beijing released a new map of China that laid claim to almost all of the disputed South China Sea, triggering protests from claimants including the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. Russia and India have also hit back at the mainland’s inclusion of territories they have laid claim to in the map.

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Taiwan’s defence expo returns after 4-year hiatus, with US firms attending for the 1st time

Beijing has been particularly annoyed by the DPP’s use of the name “Taiwan” to represent the ROC on various occasions, including next month’s Double Tenth Day to celebrate the 112th anniversary of the founding of the ROC.

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The DPP government had come under fire from the mainland-friendly opposition camp for replacing the “ROC” with “Taiwan National Day 2023” in next month’s event.

It has also been criticised for replacing the English version of “ROC” on the island’s passports with “Taiwan Passport” instead, while maintaining the ROC title in Chinese. Beijing has labelled the moves as acts of “creeping independence”.

Meanwhile, DPP leaders, including President Tsai Ing-wen, have said they have no plans to declare formal independence as the “Republic of China in Taiwan is already a sovereign and independent state”.

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Most countries, including the United States – an informal ally and major arms supplier of Taiwan – do not recognise the island as an independent state, but are opposed to any unilateral change by force of the cross-strait status quo.

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