China was accused by Taiwan of attempting to impose censorship in India after its New Delhi embassy advised journalists to adhere to the “one China” principle after newspapers advertised Taiwan’s national holiday.
Just months after fatal clashes between Indian and Chinese troops on the controversial Himalayan border between the two Asian giants, the controversy has widened at a time when Indian feelings towards China are filled with antipathy and distrust.
China’s troubles were sparked on Wednesday by advertisements by the Taiwanese government in leading Indian newspapers to celebrate the national day of the democratic, claimed by China island on Saturday.
The advertisement featured a photo of President Tsai Ing-wen and welcomed India, a fellow democratic citizen, as Taiwan’s natural partner.
China, which claims Taiwan and views it as a headstrong province, made its displeasure clear in an email its message sent its message to journalists in India, including Reuters, on Wednesday evening.
“Regarding the so-called forthcoming ‘National Day of Taiwan’, the Chinese Embassy in India would like to remind our media friends that there is only one China in the world and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China,” said the message.
“We hope that the Indian media will maintain the position of the Indian government on the Taiwan issue and not violate the ‘One China’ principle.
“In particular, in order to avoid sending the wrong signals to the public, Taiwan must not be called the ‘country (nation)’ or the ‘Republic of China’ or the ‘President’ as the leader of the Taiwan region of China.”
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu scoffed at Beijing’s advice to the media.
“India is the largest democracy in the world with a vibrant press and freedom-loving people. But it looks like the communist #China is hoping to march onto the subcontinent through censorship. # Taiwan’s Indian friends will get an answer: GET LOST! ” he said in a tweet.
New Delhi does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taipei, but the two sides have close business and cultural ties.
The central government has carefully avoided angering China over Taiwan. Relations became strained, however, after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in June and some nationalist groups called for a boycott of Chinese goods.
“The Chinese government is acting like a street thug, not a rising superpower. It threatens us,” said Nitin Gokhale, editor of a defense and security website, after receiving the email from the Chinese embassy.