BEIJING (Reuters) - China has chosen 13 people of its own to represent the island of Taiwan, over which Beijing claims sovereignty, state media said on Saturday, on the same day Taiwanese went to the polls to elect a new parliament.
The 13 were chosen “via a secret ballot”, the official Xinhua news agency said, and will sit in China’s largely rubber stamp National People’s Congress, which meets once a year.
China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war in 1949. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.
Despite not governing Taiwan, the ruling Communist Party appoints its own officials to China’s parliament to represent Taiwan, to enforce its claim the island is just a wayward province and should rightfully be run from Beijing.
The representatives are mainly Taiwanese Communists who went to China just before or after the civil war, their descendents, or defectors who abandoned Taiwan in the years following 1949.
“They are either Party or government officials, or scholars making remarkable contributions to science and technology, education and medicine, or representatives of the economic sector,” Xinhua said of the 13.
China’s self-appointed Taiwan delegates attend the annual meeting of parliament each spring, where they are often subject to harsh questioning from feisty Taiwanese reporters who question what right they have to say they represent the island.
China has kept quiet so far about the Taiwan elections, though state media has carried brief reports on its progress.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia