Thursday, December 9, 2021

China tells Taiwan ‘independence means war’, Taiwan says it’s preparing

Beijing believes that Taiwan’s democratically elected government is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence.

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Taiwan needs to be clearly aware that its future lies in “reunification” with China and that it cannot rely on the US, China’s military said on Thursday.

Beijing was responding to questions on a massed incursion by Chinese warplanes last week, Reuters reports.

Twenty-eight Chinese aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (Adiz) last Tuesday, the largest number to date reported by the democratic island’s government.

The incident came shortly after Group of Seven leaders issued a joint statement underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, comments which China condemned as “slander”.

Asked about the number of aircraft involved last week, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said what he termed exercises were “a necessary action for the current security situation across the Taiwan Strait and safeguarding national sovereignty”.

Taiwan independence means war, he added, employing the more aggressive language the ministry began using in January.

“The US should fully understand that China’s development and growth cannot be stopped by any force,” Ren said. “The future of Taiwan lies in national reunification.”

He reminded Taipei that “any attempt to rely on the US for independence is doomed to failure”.

China believes that Taiwan’s democratically elected government is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence, although Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that China’s escalating military intimidation of Taipei shows that the island “needs to prepare” for a possible military conflict.

He said, “As Taiwan decision makers, we cannot take any chances. We have to be prepared. When the Chinese government is saying they would not renounce the use of force, and they conduct military exercises around Taiwan, we would rather believe that it is real.”

Wu was accused by China last month of being a “diehard separatist” after remarks he made during a news conference that Taiwan would fight “to the very last day” if attacked by China.

In response, Wu told CNN he is “honoured” to be targeted by communist authorities in Beijing. “Authoritarianism cannot tolerate truth. If they continue to say that they want to pursue me for the rest of my life, I’m not really concerned about that,” he said.

Wu emphasised that Taiwan cannot accept unification with China, especially as events in Hong Kong have shown that safeguarding Taiwan’s sovereignty is crucial to protect its position as the world’s only Chinese-speaking democracy.

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