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South China Seas

Secession for Taiwan would mean ‘war’



“Taiwan secession means war,” Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, said on Thursday, adding that recent military drills by the People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan region were aimed at provocations by Taiwan separatist forces and foreign interference.

By ZHANG ZHIHAO | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-01-29 00:00
PLA spokesman says military drills were aimed at separatists on island

Experts said it is “exceedingly rare” for the defense ministry to explicitly state its determination to go to war over Taiwan. Therefore, the warning serves as an unambiguous bottom line that solemnly reiterates China’s stance on the topic, and to deter Taiwan secessionists and some foreign powers from going too far.

On Sunday, the People’s Liberation Army held an exercise with 15 warplanes near the island of Taiwan, two more planes than another drill of Saturday. Wu said the exercises were necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Straits and to safeguard national sovereignty and security.

“They are solemn responses to foreign interference and provocations by Taiwan separatist forces,” he added.

When asked about the island’s pro-secession Democratic Progressive Party hoping to deepen relations with the United States, Wu said Taiwan is an inseparable part of China and the Taiwan question is China’s internal affair and it cannot allow any foreign meddling.

Secession attempts by a handful of Taiwan separatists are like “fleeting froth” in the long course of history of the Chinese nation that will not amount to anything significant, Wu said.

“We solemnly warn these Taiwan separatists: Those who play with fire will get burned, Taiwan secession means war,” he said. “The PLA will take whatever actions necessary to resolutely thwart any secession schemes, and adamantly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A Beijing-based military historian who requested anonymity said the Chinese military and academia have long held the belief that Taiwan secession could lead to war, “but it is still exceedingly rare for the defense ministry to state it so explicitly.”

“While this warning may not be enough to deter hardcore Taiwan separatists and some foreign powers from trying to see the island secede, it is nevertheless a powerful message that will make them think twice before crossing the point of no return,” the historian said.

Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said he expects the veteran-diplomat-filled Biden administration to take a more cautious, rational and flexible approach to the Taiwan question than the previous administration.

“A continuation of the Trump administration’s reckless Taiwan policies would inevitably lead to war,” he said, adding the explicit warning given by the defense ministry was meant to show the new US administration China’s ultimate bottom line regarding the Taiwan question.

“The Biden administration will likely continue to sell arms to Taiwan, support its status on the international stage, and facilitate official visits and interactions,” he said. “But it will also maintain a certain level of ambiguity on the Taiwan question. What it won’t do is brazenly support Taiwan secession and risk sacrificing US interests for the goals of Taiwan separatists.”

zhangzhihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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