BEIJING – China on Wednesday (Aug 10) vowed zero tolerance for “separatist activities” in Taiwan and reaffirmed that it would take the self-ruled island by force if necessary, as its military wrapped up drills of unprecedented scale and intensity around Taiwan.
Provocations by “separatist elements or external forces” that cross its red lines would force Beijing to take “drastic measures”, it said in a government White Paper.
Meanwhile, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said it had concluded its week-long drills around Taiwan and that it would keep an eye on the situation in the Taiwan Strait. It added that it would prepare its forces for combat, and combat readiness patrols would become regular in these waters.
Beijing denounced Taiwan’s independence efforts and said in the White Paper that external forces obstructing its reunification would be defeated.
The document, titled “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era”, lays out how Beijing intends to pursue reunification through economic incentives and military pressure.
“We will work with the greatest sincerity and exert our utmost efforts to achieve peaceful reunification. But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures,” it said.
The White Paper also accused “some forces in the US” of stirring up trouble and using Taiwan as a pawn, and jeopardising peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
“Left unchecked, it will continue to escalate tension across the strait, further disrupt China-US relations and severely damage the interests of the US itself,” it said.
The Chinese government document is the first White Paper on Taiwan that it has released since 2000. Beijing often issues White Papers to lay out its position on various issues.
In this latest document, Beijing also signalled that it would provide less autonomy to Taiwan in the event of reunification.
Its last two White Papers on Taiwan, issued in 1993 and 2000, contained the promise that the mainland “would not send troops or administrative personnel to be based in Taiwan”.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said the latest White Paper was full of lies that showed “wishful thinking and disregard of the facts”.
Meanwhile, the PLA said on Wednesday that joint military operations in the air space and waters around Taiwan had been “successfully completed, and effectively tested the integrated combat capabilities” of its forces.
The short statement brings to an end the military drills that Beijing announced after US Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last week.
Originally slated to last only four days, the military exercises that began last Thursday had been intended to simulate a blockade and invasion of Taiwan, and featured ballistic missile launches – some of which flew over the island. It was the first time the PLA had done this.
The mainland, which sees Taiwan as a renegade province, was infuriated by Mrs Pelosi’s visit, seeing it as a provocation and support for Taiwan’s independence.
Mrs Pelosi said in media interviews on Tuesday that China’s reaction to her visit to Taiwan showed that Chinese President Xi Jinping was “acting like a scared bully”, pointing out that China could not control the schedules of members of Congress.
“We are not going to be accomplices to his isolation of Taiwan,” she said.
Mrs Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, has said her visit was meant to demonstrate America’s solidarity with Taiwan, but she has also come under fire for inflaming tensions without much strategic gain.
Analysts expect the mainland to ratchet up the intensity of future military exercises around Taiwan.
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said on Wednesday: “At present, cross-strait relations are once again faced with two choices for the future. As for where to go from here, the Taiwan authorities will have to make the right choice."