Wednesday 21 August 2019

Chinese 'ready to go to war' over Taiwan in face of US arms initiative

Safeguarding sovereignty: Defence ministry’s Wu Qian. Photo: AP
Safeguarding sovereignty: Defence ministry’s Wu Qian. Photo: AP

Michael Martina

China has warned that it is ready for war if there is any move toward Taiwan's independence, accusing the United States of undermining global stability and denouncing its arms sales to the self-ruled island.

The Pentagon said this month the US State Department had approved sales of weapons requested by Taiwan, including tanks and Stinger missiles estimated to be worth $2.2bn (€1.97bn).

China responded by saying that it would impose sanctions on US firms involved in any deals.

Defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a news briefing on a defence white paper, the first like it in several years to outline the military's strategic concerns, that China would make its greatest effort for peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

"However, we must firmly point out that seeking Taiwan independence is a dead end," Mr Wu said.

"If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China's military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity," he said.

The United States is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China deems a wayward province.

Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

The United States has no formal ties with democratic Taiwan, but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself.

The Chinese ministry said the United States had "provoked intensified competition among major countries, significantly increased its defence expenditure... and undermined global strategic stability".

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said later in a statement that Beijing's "provocative behaviour... seriously violated the peace principle in international laws".

"We urge Beijing authorities to renounce irrational, malicious acts such as the use of force, and to improve cross-strait relations and handle issues including Hong Kong rationally, so that it can be a responsible regional member," it said.

In Beijing, asked how China's military would handle escalating protest violence in Hong Kong's widening crisis over a controversial extradition bill, Mr Wu referred only to the territory's garrison law.

Irish Independent

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