US calls on China not to interfere in Taiwan election

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen. Photo by AFP.

The United States on Thursday urged China not to interfere in elections next month in Taiwan, where President Tsai Ing-wen, a critic of Beijing, is seeking a new term.

David Stilwell, the top US diplomat for Asia, said that tensions have historically risen whenever Taiwan goes to the polls.

"They should not," he said of the tensions.

"The concern always exists for somehow meddling -- interfering -- in internal affairs there."

Stilwell said that the United States, through its policy of providing arms to the self-ruling island while recognizing only Beijing, sought for differences between the two sides to be "resolved through dialogue and without violence or coercion or threats."

"So that's our expectation for this upcoming event as well," he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Tsai, who has emphasized Taiwan's separate identity and voiced solidarity with Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, on January 11 faces a challenger who favours warmer ties with Beijing.

Beijing sees Taiwan -- where China's defeated nationalists fled in 1949 -- as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

The top US diplomat in Taiwan, Brent Christensen, last month also voiced "concerns" that China would try to influence the vote.

Beijing said that it's first domestically built aircraft carrier recently sailed through the Taiwan Strait, although it described the move as routine.

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