Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin denied the existence of a Taiwanese president on Thursday, reiterating Beijing’s position that Taiwan is an “inalienable” part of China.
Wang made the claim to “correct” a foreign reporter at a regular press briefing in Beijing. The reporter, who is affiliated with Reuters, had asked about an upcoming meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA-20).
“Taiwanese officials have said that a potential meeting between Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is still being arranged. What’s China’s response?” the reporter asked.
In response, Wang stated, “I need to correct you first. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and there is no such thing as ‘Taiwanese president.’”
This is not the first time a Chinese official has downplayed Taiwanese leadership.
Last year, Zhao Lijian, another spokesperson with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, denied the existence of a Taiwanese vice president while addressing a reporter’s inquiry about a discussion between U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and her “Taiwanese counterpart” in Honduras.
“There is no Taiwanese ‘vice president’ since Taiwan is a province of China,” Zhao said at a press briefing. “China always opposes all forms of official exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan.”
Beijing swears by its One China principle, which states that there is only one China, that it is governed by the Chinese Communist Party and that Taiwan is part of it.
After “correcting” the reporter on Thursday, Wang echoed Zhao’s statement, saying China opposes official interactions between the U.S. and Taiwan:
We would like to reiterate that we strongly oppose any form of official interaction between the US and Taiwan, strongly oppose any U.S. visit by the leader of the Taiwan authorities regardless of the rationale or pretext, and strongly oppose all forms of U.S. contact with the Taiwan authorities, which violates the One China principle. China has made strong démarches to the U.S. side on this matter.
Wang further described the “reported trip” as an attempt to “propagate” Taiwan’s independence. He urged the U.S. to abide by China’s principle and to avoid supporting alternative positions such as “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.”
For its part, Taiwan’s Office of the President confirmed Tuesday that Tsai is scheduled to visit the U.S. on March 30 as part of a multinational trip. She will then head to Guatemala and Belize, fly back to Los Angeles on April 5 and return to Taiwan.