China tightened its language vis-à-vis Taiwan on Thursday, warning that “independence means war” and that its armed forces were acting in response to provocation and foreign interference following the recently increased military activity near the island.
Taiwan, which has been claimed by China as its own territory, last weekend reported several Chinese warplanes and bombers entering the southwest air defense zone, prompting Washington to urge Beijing to stop pressure on Taiwan.
China believes Taiwan’s democratically elected government is moving the island towards a formal declaration of independence, despite Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen having repeatedly stated that it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.
When asked at a monthly press conference about the Air Force’s recent activities, China Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.
“The cross-strait military activities of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army are necessary measures to address the current cross-strait security situation and ensure national sovereignty and security,” he said.
“They are a solemn response to outside interference and provocations from the Taiwanese independence forces,” he added.
Wu said a “handful” of people in Taiwan are seeking independence for the island.
“We caution these elements of Taiwan’s independence: those who play with fire will burn themselves, and Taiwan’s independence means war,” he added.
While China has never relinquished the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, it is unusual for Beijing to make such blatant verbal threats to conflict.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said China should think carefully and not underestimate the island’s determination to defend its sovereignty and uphold freedom and democracy.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry reported six Chinese air force planes, including four J-10 fighter jets, flew into the air defense zone near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the top of the South China Sea on Thursday.
The Chinese incursions over the weekend coincided with a US combat group that marched into the controversial South China Sea to promote “freedom of the seas”.
China routinely describes Taiwan as its most important and sensitive issue in relations with the United States, which under the previous Trump administration increased support for the island regarding arms sales and senior officials visiting Taipei.
President Joe Biden’s administration, which has been in office for a week, has reiterated its commitment to Taiwan as “absolutely solid” and may add further strains to Beijing.
Taiwan has denounced China’s threats and intimidation efforts, and Tsai has vowed to defend the island’s freedom and not be coerced.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)