China issues war alert to Taiwan over US Bill

Taiwan's national flag flies in front of the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province and an integral part of "one China".
Taiwan's national flag flies in front of the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province and an integral part of "one China".PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Taiwan's national flag flies in front of the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province and an integral part of "one China".
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Legislation promoting closer US ties with island stokes Chinese ire

BEIJING/TAIPEI • China warned Taiwan yesterday that it would only get burned if it sought to rely on foreigners, adding to warnings from state media that China could go to war over the territory if the United States passes into law a Bill promoting closer US ties with the self-ruled island.

The legislation, which needs only President Donald Trump's signature to become law, says it should be US policy to allow officials at all levels to travel to Taiwan to meet their Taiwanese counterparts, and permit high-level Taiwanese officials to enter the US "under respectful conditions" and meet US officials.

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province and an integral part of "one China", ineligible for state-to-state relations. China also has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office said the Bill was a serious contravention of the "one China" principle. "We also sternly warn Taiwan: Do not rely on foreigners to build yourselves up, or it will only draw the fire upon you," it said in a short statement.

In a strongly worded editorial, the official China Daily newspaper said if the Bill becomes law, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will be encouraged to further assert the island's sovereignty.

"Which, if she persisted, would lead to the inevitable consequence of triggering the Anti-Secession Law that allows Beijing to use force to prevent the island from seceding," the paper said.

"Since the US is bound by domestic law to act on behalf of the island in that instance, it would only give substance to the observation that the descent into hell is easy."

In a strongly worded editorial, the official China Daily newspaper said that if the Bill becomes law, it will only encourage Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen to further assert the island's sovereignty. "Which, if she persisted, would lead to the inevitable consequence of triggering the Anti-Secession Law that allows Beijing to use force to prevent the island from seceding," the paper said.

China's hostility towards Taiwan has risen since the election to president of Ms Tsai from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in 2016.

China suspects Ms Tsai wants to push for formal independence, though she has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

Taiwan has welcomed the US legislation. Speaking to reporters in Taipei yesterday, Premier William Lai said the US is a "solid ally" of Taiwan and expressed his deep thanks for the legislation.

In a second editorial, the widely read state-run Global Times tabloid said China could "make targeted measures against pro-independence forces in Taiwan".

"Militarily, the strength of the People's Liberation Army has fundamentally changed the military and political situation across the strait," it said, talking about the narrow waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour.

"Thanks to its rapid growth, the Chinese mainland is now granted unparalleled strategic initiative across the Taiwan Strait."

China has dramatically upped its military presence around Taiwan. China's air force has carried out 16 rounds of exercises close to Taiwan in the last year or so, said Taiwan's Defence ministry last December, warning that China's military threat is growing by the day.

The US has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island's main source of arms. China regularly says Taiwan is the most sensitive issue in its ties with Washington.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2018, with the headline 'China issues war alert to Taiwan over US Bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe