Chinese official urges Taiwan’s people to make ‘correct choice’ on election

BEIJING (Reuters) – A senior Chinese official on Wednesday urged Taiwan’s people to make a “correct choice” on the island’s upcoming elections, which he described as being about peace and war, prosperity and decline.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has repeatedly cast the Jan. 13 presidential and parliamentary elections as a choice between war and peace.

Top Chinese leaders have generally avoided public comments on the vote. President Xi Jinping said in his New Year’s address on Sunday that China’s “reunification” with Taiwan is inevitable, but did not mention the election.

In his own New Year’s message, Zhang Zhijun, head of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, a quasi-official body that handles ties with Taiwan, said Taiwanese faced an important choice in the election.

“The two elections coming up in the Taiwan region are important choices between the prospects for peace and war, prosperity and decline,” said Zhang, who headed the central government’s Taiwan Affairs Office from 2013 to 2018.

“Taiwan compatriots must stand on the right side of history, and make a correct choice to promote cross-strait relations back to the right track of peaceful development,” he said.

Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s people can decide their future.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jamie Freed and Lincoln Feast.)