The People’s Republic of China has warned that attempts by Taiwan to seek independence “means war”, days after China stepped up its military activities and flew warplanes near the island.
The warning by the communist country also comes after new US President Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to Taiwan.
China sees democratic Taiwan as a breakaway province and Chinese leader Jinping warned last year that he will United the Island with China by any means necessary, but Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign state.
Taiwan, a self governed island, is also very fortified military and an invasion by China will cost the Chinese military billions of dollars, loss of lives and ammunition, therefore will not be an easy task to pursue.
“We are seriously telling those Taiwan independence forces: those who play with fire will burn themselves, and Taiwan independence means war,” Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said at a press conference on Thursday, January 28, Chinese time.
He also defended China’s recent military activities, saying they were “necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security”.
The US has now responded.
“We find that comment unfortunate,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters, in the first statement by the new administration on China-Taiwan relations.
Kirby added that the Pentagon “sees no reason why tensions over Taiwan need to lead to anything like confrontation”.
The new US administration is expected to maintain pressure on China over a wide range of issues including human rights, trade disputes, Hong Kong and Taiwan, amid the deteriorating relationship between the two powers.
China and Taiwan have had separate governments since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Beijing has long tried to limit Taiwan’s international activities and both have vied for influence in the Pacific region.
Tensions have increased in recent years and Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to take the island back
Taiwan’s democratically elected government has strong commercial and informal links with many countries.
Like most nations, the US has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but a US law does require it to provide the island with the means to defend itself if it is attacked