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China sanctions seven Taiwan ‘independence diehard’ officials

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China on Tuesday imposed sanctions, including a travel ban on seven Taiwanese officials and lawmakers it accused of being “independence diehards,” and was condemned by the democratically-ruled island.

The sanctions come after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan this month, a trip China says sent the wrong signal to what it sees as pro-independence forces.

China sees Taiwan as its own territory and not as a separate country. The government of Taiwan disputes China’s claim.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the sanctioned individuals included Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, secretary general of Taiwan’s National Security Council Wellington Koo and politicians from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

A spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office said the sanctioned individuals would not be able to visit China, Hong Kong and Macau. Companies and related investors should also not be allowed to profit in China.

“For some time, a few diehard separatist elements, in their own interest, have made efforts to collaborate with outside forces in provocations advocating Taiwan’s independence,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

“Their activities became all the more blatant during the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Chinese region of Taiwan, further exposing their stubbornness in the pursuit of Taiwan’s independence.”

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the island is a democracy that “cannot be hindered by China”, while Taiwan’s China Mainland Policy-making Council said Beijing was trying to “create antagonism and fear”.

DPP Deputy Secretary General Lin Fei-fan said it was an honor to be added to the sanctions list.

“I think in this age being sanctioned by an authoritarian regime should be an award for members of the free world, and it is very glorious,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

The sanctions will have little practical impact as senior Taiwanese officials will not visit China.

The seven are alongside Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Speaker of Parliament You Si-kun, who were previously sanctioned by China.

Taiwan’s government says only the island’s 23 million residents have the right to decide their own future.

(Reuters)

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