TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan on Thursday denounced China's latest moves to increase its global isolation, saying residents of the self-governing island would reject attempts to deny its existence.
China in recent days has forced international airlines to stop referring to Taiwan as a separate country on their websites. It also allegedly prompted the Asian Olympic Committee to withdraw the island's right to host a youth competition scheduled for next year in the central city of Taichung.
"These are attempts to destroy Taiwan's sovereignty, and erase it from the world map," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrew Lee told reporters at a news conference.
"I believe that no Taiwanese people would accept such a thing," Lee said.
Beijing's action is aimed at increasing Taiwan's isolation and prodding it toward a political union with China. Taiwan is already excluded from the United Nations and other major international organizations, and China has been steadily poaching away the self-governing island's dwindling number of diplomatic partners.
Beijing has also stepped up its military threats by sending warplanes on patrols around the island and staging war games on its side of the Taiwan Strait.
It has also offered preferential terms for talented young people from the high-tech island to work in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing that offer much larger potential markets than those available in Taiwan.
China has taken an increasingly hard line since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to endorse Beijing's insistence that Taiwan is a part of China to be brought under its control eventually.
Tsai's office issued a statement Thursday criticizing the move to cancel the 2019 East Asian Youth Games in Taichung as "brazen and crude political meddling in sports."
"Taiwan condemns China's behavior in the strongest possible terms," the statement said.
Associated Press video journalist Johnson Lai in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.