China Threatens To Blacklist Top Taiwan Diplomat 'For Life'

Taiwan's outspoken foreign minister could be first on Beijing's secretive watch list of independence supporters it wants to sanction, a Chinese official has hinted.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, singled out Joseph Wu by name at a fortnightly press conference on Wednesday, calling Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs a "stubborn Taiwan secessionist."

President Tsai Ing-wen's chief diplomat becomes the first official in her cabinet to be named by China as a credible threat to its cross-strait ambition of "unification" with the island. Wu has made several notable media appearances in recent months, warning English-speaking audiences about Beijing's military coercion and its attempts to isolate Taiwan from the international community.

He told Britain's Sky News last month that China was preparing a "final military assault" on democratic Taiwan.

Zhu accused the Taiwanese diplomat of "arrogant provocations" and "malicious slander of China." Wu was "inciting opposition across the Taiwan Strait," she added.

Asked whether Taiwan's foreign minister was the first to be included on China's so-called "blacklist" of Taiwan independence backers, Zhu said: "China will take all necessary measures to punish this type of stubborn Taiwan secessionist and hold him accountable to the law for life."

Zhu publicly acknowledged the political watch list for the first time last November amid a downturn in cross-strait relations and an escalation in military tensions not seen for several decades. Her office, however, has given very few details about how such a sanction list would function given China's lack of jurisdiction in Taiwan.

She has only stated that the list would affect a "very small number" of Taiwan independence advocates, as opposed to the wider Taiwanese public.

In a statement sent to Newsweek on Wednesday, Taiwan's foreign ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou called Zhu's comments "absurd."

China's ruling Communist Party "is incapable of self-reflection," Ou said. The Chinese government's "wolf warrior diplomacy" not only fails to resonate, it also leads to more opposition from the Taiwanese public and other democracies, she added.

Taiwan's foreign minister most recently hit out at Beijing on Tuesday through a series of tweets, in which he accused China of "shameless lies."

Wu was responding to comments by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, who said "no one cares more about the health and welfare" of Taiwan's public than Beijing, following reports that China had blocked Taipei's participation in this year's World Health Assembly—for the fifth year in a row.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Addresses Press
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu speaks during a press conference in Taipei on November 22, 2019. SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images