Taiwan’s presidential and parliamentary polls on January 13 are expected to shape Taiwan’s relationship with China.
China has accused Taiwan of deliberately “exaggerating” Beijing’s military threat to gain an electoral advantage ahead of January polls.
“The Democratic Party [DPP] “The authorities are deliberately exaggerating the so-called ‘military threat from the mainland’ and exaggerating tensions,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said on Thursday.
“This is purely for electoral gain,” he added, accusing Taiwan of using “familiar electoral strategies to incite conflict and manipulate elections.”
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday that it had spotted 12 Chinese military planes flying over the Taiwan Strait, the delicate line separating Taiwan and China.
China has been sending fighter jets and ships around Taiwan almost daily, and Taipei has reported increased Chinese military activity in the Taiwan Strait ahead of the January 13 general election.
China claims that Taiwan is its own territory and is democratically governed. The presidential and parliamentary elections are expected to shape the island’s relationship with China.
One of the key themes heading into the closely watched vote is how presidential candidates will deal with relations with China.
The Chinese government dislikes the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate, current Vice President Lai Qingde, because it considers him to be a separatist, and has rejected calls for talks.
Over the past four years, Taiwanese officials have repeatedly raised concerns about election interference and misinformation as Beijing ramps up military pressure to assert its sovereignty claims.
In a televised policy announcement on Tuesday, Li again warned of election interference by the Chinese government.
“It is easier to buy or deceive than to rob,” Lai said, accusing the opposition Kuomintang Party of “borrowing China’s power to gain control.”
Kuomintang candidate Hou Yuxi, who has promised to build closer ties with the Chinese government, said the election was a choice between “war and peace.”
Spokesman Wu also said that the People’s Liberation Army is well aware of Taiwan’s military trends.
“As always, we will take all necessary measures to resolutely protect our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.
Mr. Wu declined to comment on Taiwan’s report that Chinese balloons were drifting across the strait’s median line. The median line has previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two countries.