Pro-China posts flood Tsai’s Facebook

Tsai Ing-wen, waving after her victory in the presidential election in TaiwanImage copyright

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Tsai Ing-wen has not made clear whether she supports Taiwanese independence from China

The Facebook page of Taiwan’s new president-elect Tsai Ing-wen has been flooded with hostile posts, seemingly from mainland China.

Tens of thousands of posts demanded that the island be reunified with the mainland, under Beijing’s control.

Ms Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a landslide victory in presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday.

The DPP is broadly supportive of independence from China.

Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province that must one day be brought back under mainland control, and is concerned that Taiwan may declare formal independence, although Ms Tsai has not declared herself in favour of such a move.

Ms Tsai brushed off the Facebook campaign: “The greatness of this country lies in how every single person can exercise their rights” she posted on Facebook on Thursday. Her party too said they “respected” those who exercised freedom of speech.

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Facebook: Tsai lng wen

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Dr Tsai celebrated Taiwan’s freedom of speech on her Facebook page

Access to Facebook and most major Western social media sites is banned in mainland China, but technically savvy users often circumvent the restrictions – an irony not lost on Taiwanese Facebook posters, who sarcastically congratulated the mainland critics on bypassing their censors.

But posters, mostly writing in the simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland, were undeterred: “Why do Taiwanese think we’ve all been brainwashed? We’ve all been taught from small that Taiwanese are compatriots, and Taiwan is the jewelled island,” wrote one.

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Tsai Ing-wen will replace Taiwan’s more pro-China current president, Ma Ying-jeou

It is not the first time Ms Tsai has been on the receiving end of a barrage of Facebook posts from across the Taiwan Straight, or the first time she has appeared to welcome it.

“I hope this rare new experience can let the ‘new friend’ see a more complete democracy, freedom and pluralism of Taiwan,” she wrote during a similar episode in November.

Ms Tsai says she wants peaceful relations with China. The island has been self-ruled ever since Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island in 1949 after being defeated by communist forces in the Chinese civil war.

It is not clear that the social media campaign will have the effect the posters hope. The reaction to a Taiwanese member of a South Korean pop band reading out a profuse apology to mainland China for showing a Taiwanese flag during a variety show, was credited with boosting support for the DPP in the elections.

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