China has hit back at Taiwan after the island's President Tsai Ing-wen offered to help Beijing in the transition to democracy. While commenting on the 28th Tiananmen Square anniversary on Sunday, 4 June, Tsai mocked China that the mainland could even learn democratic values from Taipei.
The anniversary on Sunday was marked to remember China's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy student protesters in 1989, when the government had ordered to roll tanks and troops into the Tiananmen Square. The square has now turned into a symbol for pro-democracy movement. Any events to mark the anniversary are aggressively discouraged in the mainland, but gatherings in states like Taiwan and Hong Kong actively honour the occasion.
"For democracy: some are early, others are late, but we all get there in the end," Tsai wrote among a series of social media posts. "Borrowing on Taiwan's experience, I believe that China can shorten the pain of democratic reform," she said in another.
Tsai said the biggest wedge remaining between China and Taiwan is democracy and urged Beijing embrace its values. "I hope you can pay more attention to the positive changes happening in all levels of Chinese society," without adding more details.
Unsurprisingly, the comments have not gone down well with the Chinese communist government, which said the "values and ideas" put forth by Tsai and her party have become a recipe for chaos in the quasi-autonomous Taiwan.
"(Taiwan authorities) should not divert attention and shirk responsibility while further inflaming cross-strait antagonism," China's Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement to Reuters. The office's spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang added only mainland Chinese authorities have the rights to comment on the political affairs of Beijing and not the ones from Taiwan.
Tensions have escalated under Tsai, Taiwan's first female president, ever since she took charge in 2016 championing strong nationalist sentiments. China has not ruled out a full-scale invasion against Taiwan if it deems necessary.