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China warns Taiwan that seeking independence will mean ‘disaster’

TAIPEI: China warned self-ruled Taiwan yesterday that it was courting "disaster", after the running mate of President Tsai Ing-wen in January elections said he was working towards the island's independence.

Ms Tsai chose former premier William Lai as her vice-presidential candidate on Sunday, the day China sailed an aircraft carrier group through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, a move Taipei denounced as attempted intimidation.

The party the two politicians are from - Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) - is in favour of formal independence, a redline for Beijing.

In April last year, while premier, Mr Lai told Parliament he was a "Taiwan independence worker" and that his position was that Taiwan was a sovereign, independent country.

China's Global Times tabloid said China should issue an international arrest warrant for him. China considers Taiwan its territory.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Lai repeated those sentiments.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office said both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China and "reunification"cannot be stopped.

"'Taiwan independence' is a dead end, and it will bring only profound disaster to Taiwan."

Though the DPP is not technically campaigning on a promise to declare an independent Republic of Taiwan, some of its politicians are more explicit.

Mr Chen Chih-chung, son of former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian and a DPP councillor in the city of Kaohsiung, put pictures on his Facebook page of him with a flag that read: "I am Taiwanese. I stand for Taiwan's independence." - REUTERS

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