China says it won't allow Taiwan's separation

BEIJING • China is willing to show utmost goodwill towards self-ruled Taiwan but will not allow its separation from China, the country's Defence Ministry has said, after Taiwan's President said she does not rule out the possibility of a Chinese attack.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said this week she does not exclude the possibility of China attacking the territory, amid heightened tensions after an increasing number of Chinese military drills nearby.

Beijing has taken an increasingly hostile stance towards Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province, since Ms Tsai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party was elected two years ago.

China suspects Ms Tsai wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though she has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

Asked about Ms Tsai's remarks on the possibility of an attack, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said China is willing to show the greatest amount of goodwill to seek "peaceful reunification".

"But we will certainly not allow Taiwan to separate from the motherland," Mr Wu told a regular monthly news briefing yesterday .

In recent months, China has stepped up military drills around Taiwan, alarming Taipei. China says the exercises are routine.

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning has this month sailed twice through the Taiwan Strait, the narrow stretch of water separating the two sides. Mr Wu said a carrier group led by the Liaoning recently conducted training in accordance with an annual schedule, to test equipment. He gave no other details.

China considers proudly democratic Taiwan to be its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'China says it won't allow Taiwan's separation'. Print Edition | Subscribe