March 15, 2008 / 9:25 AM / 12 years ago

Taiwan criticises China over Tibet

TAIPEI, March 15 (Reuters) - Taiwan officials and the ruling party’s presidential candidate condemned China’s move against rioters in Tibet, linking it to their own island that China claims as its own and has threatened with force.

"As we look at Tibet, we must think about our own fate," said Frank Hsieh, presidential candidate from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which favours formal independence from China.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists (KMT) fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.

"Tibet is a test case for China’s application of the anti-secession law," Hsieh added, referring to Beijing’s 2005 edict authorising use of force in extreme cases against Taiwan.

Hsieh trails his opponent Ma Ying-jeou from the main opposition KMT opinion polls ahead of the March 22 election. The KMT once ruled all of China and is seen as more mainland-friendly.

Ma also condemned the violence on Saturday, but does not believe it relates to Taiwan, his spokesman Lo Chih-chiang said.

"This incident doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Taiwan’s question of whether to unite or declare independence from China," said Lo.

The Taiwan foreign ministry and the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s main China policy maker, also condemned China’s use of force in Tibet to quell rioters.

"We strongly condemn China’s use of force to suppress Tibet and urge the international community to monitor the development in Tibet," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday. (Reporting by Ralph Jennings; Editing by Lee Chyen Yee)

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