China warns it will not tolerate Taiwan ‘separatists’

BEIJING, China — China on Wednesday pledged zero tolerance for “separatist activities” in Taiwan and reiterated that it would take the self-governing island by force if necessary.

A man reads a newspaper reporting on Chinese military exercises surrounding Taiwan, along a street in Beijing, August 8, 2022. Noel Celis / AFP

The warning from Beijing, which considers Taiwan its territory, came after days of unprecedented Chinese military exercises around the island sparked by US President Nancy Pelosi’s trip.

Pelosi last week became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in decades despite stern threats from China, which is trying to keep Taipei isolated on the world stage.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Wednesday released a white paper outlining how it intends to claim the island through a series of economic incentives and military pressure.

“We are ready to create a vast space for peaceful reunification, but we will leave no room for separatist activities in any form,” the white paper said.

China “will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the possibility of taking all necessary measures”.

He added, however, “We will only be forced to take drastic measures to respond to provocation by separatist elements or outside forces if they cross our red lines.”

China last released a white paper on Taiwan in 2000.

Since the late 1990s, the island has evolved from an autocracy to a vibrant democracy and a distinct Taiwanese identity has emerged.

Relations between the two parties have deteriorated significantly since Tsai Ing-wen became president in 2016.

Tsai and his Democratic Progressive Party do not consider Taiwan to be part of China.

Their platform falls under China’s broad definition of Taiwanese separatism, which also includes those who argue for the island to have a separate identity from the mainland.

– Invasion fears –

The Chinese white paper promised Taiwan’s economic prosperity as well as “greater security and dignity” after “reunification”.

But that offer comes in the shadow of larger military exercises China has conducted around the island, including training for a blockade.

The drills raised fears that China’s communist leaders were preparing for an invasion.

The drills were originally scheduled to end on Sunday, but continued this week with no confirmation of when they will end.

China’s People’s Liberation Army on Wednesday released details of drills it conducted around Taiwan the day before.

The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command said Tuesday’s drills focused on establishing air dominance, releasing videos and photos of fighter jets taking off and carrying out maneuvers – including aerial refueling from an oil tanker.

Taiwan has accused China of using Pelosi’s visit as an excuse to plot an invasion.

It conducted its own military drills to prepare for an attack on the island and on Wednesday released images of its air, ground and sea forces responding to Chinese drills.

Taiwanese drills prompted another Chinese warning on Tuesday.

Any plot to “resist reunification with arms”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “will end in failure like a mantis trying to stop a tank”.

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