Taiwan’s top diplomat has ripped into the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper after it referred to the island nation as part of China in a tweet praising Taipei’s passage of a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
In a Twitter post Sunday morning, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu blasted the Friday tweet from the official account of the People’s Daily newspaper that said “local lawmakers in #Taiwan, China, have legalized same-sex marriage.”
“WRONG! The bill was passed by our national parliament & will be signed by the president soon,” Wu wrote in response. “Democratic #Taiwan is a country in itself & has nothing to do with authoritarian #China. @PDChina is a commie brainwasher & it sucks. JW.”
Wu, a member of President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is a known proponent of Taiwanese independence — a stance that has angered Beijing.
China views Taiwan as a renegade province that must be brought back into the fold — by force if necessary — and is suspicious of Tsai and the DPP, and routinely criticizes the party, which it claims is waiting for an opportunity to push for the island’s formal independence.
On Friday, Taiwan’s parliament, the Legislative Yuan, voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a first in Asia and a boost for LGBT rights activists who had championed the cause for two decades.
The tweet by the People’s Daily account was one of several by Chinese state-run media accounts that appeared to capitalize on Taiwan’s gay-marriage vote, including one on the Global Times newspaper’s account with a video that asked: “Where do queers in #China hang out? This map shows just where the cool LGBT events are in Beijing.”
Same-sex relations are not illegal in China, which has a vibrant LGBTQ scene, but it was not until 1997 that homosexuality was decriminalized in the country. It was officially removed from a list of mental illnesses three years later.
The Communist Party-ruled government has shown no interest in legalizing same-sex marriage, and launches periodic crackdowns on gay content online or elsewhere. However, experts say these moves are not merely targeting people because of their sexuality, but rather targeting their organizing, which the party views as a potential threat.