Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have been building all year, since President Xi delivered a speech during the opening days of the year where he mused about the possibility of 'reunification', eliciting a sharp denial from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who has delivered several interviews to Western media outlets warning about the growing threat from Beijing.
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu
Tsai's Beijing-skeptic Democratic Progressive Party, which only recently wrested power from the historically dominant Kuomintang and is currently the majority ruling party, has warned about Beijing's efforts to interfere in the January 2020 presidential vote.
But Taiwan's growing anxiety manifested itself in a way that was truly unexpected when the country's foreign minister accused the People's Daily of being a 'commie brainwasher', adding that the propaganda rag 'sucks'.
WRONG! The bill was passed by our national parliament & will be signed by the president soon. Democratic #Taiwan is a country in itself & has nothing to do with authoritarian #China. @PDChina is a commie brainwasher & it sucks. JW https://t.co/eHKzXdzxoT— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) May 19, 2019
The unexpectedly caustic tweet was was purportedly triggered by a relatively inconsequential factual oversight in the PD's tweet regarding Taiwan's embrace of same-sex marriage.
Adding to the message's heft, the missive was signed by Taiwan's Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, which might make it difficult to blame this on an underling, or otherwise walk it back.
Perhaps it's just the latest example of Taipei pushing back against Beijing's increasingly imperialist rhetoric.