Beijing lashes out at Pompeo after he congratulates Tsai Ing-wen on second term

Foreign Affairs
matt pottinger state department speaks chinese to congratulate Tsai Ing-wen on Taiwan election
Matt Pottinger, the U.S. deputy national security advisor, delivered remarks for Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration in Mandarin with the White House in the background. Screenshot from video on the Taiwanese presidential office Youtube channel.

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) began her second term as Taiwan’s president today, after winning reelection in a landslide in January. In her inauguration speech, available in both Chinese and English here, she:

  • Celebrated her government’s successful containment of COVID-19 (Taiwan just marked 13 days with no new infections).
  • Laid out a plan to “proactively develop our industries, foster a safe society [with “health and social safety nets”], ensure national security, and deepen our democracy” over the next four years.
  • Stated that Taiwan “will continue to fight for our participation in international organizations, strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with our allies, and bolster ties with the United States, Japan, Europe, and other like-minded countries.”
  • Reiterated that she “will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.”

Over 90 foreign dignitaries from 41 countries sent video messages of congratulations to Tsai, according to Focus Taiwan. This included David Stilwell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Matt Pottinger, the U.S. deputy national security advisor, who delivered remarks in Mandarin with the White House in the background.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also issued a statement that congratulated President Tsai, and said, “Her courage and vision in leading Taiwan’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to the region and the world.”

In response, Beijing lashed out at Pompeo in particular.

  • Foreign Ministry spokesperson and chief troll Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 gave a lengthy response to Pompeo’s congratulatory message, calling it “grave interference in China’s internal affairs,” and warning, “Practices that undermine China’s core interests and intervene in China’s domestic affairs will be met with forceful fightback…China will take necessary measures in response to the U.S. erroneous practices, and the consequences will be borne by the U.S. side.” The Foreign Ministry also reprinted a version of these remarks as a separate statement (Chinese version here).
  • The Ministry of National Defense also put out a similar statement, in English and Chinese.

See also: What are the right and the wrong ways for the U.S. to support Taiwan? ChinaFile asks Yu-Jie Chen, Bonnie S. Glaser, Jerome A. Cohen, and Karl Eikenberry, among others, what a U.S. campaign to support Taiwan should look like and what its objectives ought to be.