BEIJING (AP) — China on Wednesday repeated its military threats against Taiwan while appearing to end war games near the self-governing island it claims as its own territory, raising tensions between the two sides. at their highest level in years.
The message in a lengthy policy statement released by the Cabinet Office of Taiwan Affairs and its press office follows nearly a week of missile strikes and incursions into Taiwanese waters and airspace by ships. warships and planes of the Chinese Air Force.
The actions disrupted flights and shipping in a region crucial to global supply chains, prompting strong condemnation from the United States, Japan and others.
An English version of the Chinese statement said Beijing would “work with utmost sincerity and make every effort to achieve peaceful reunification.”
“But we will not renounce the use of force and we reserve the possibility of taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against outside interference and all separatist activities,” he said.
READ MORE: Why relations between China and Taiwan are so strained
“We will always be ready to respond with the use of force or other necessary means to the interference of external forces or the radical action of separatist elements. Our ultimate goal is to secure China’s peaceful reunification prospects and push this process forward,” he said.
China says its threatening measures were prompted by a visit to Taiwan last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Taiwan says such visits are routine and China has only used its trip only as a pretext to reinforce his threats.
In a further response to Pelosi’s visit, China said it was cutting off dialogue on issues ranging from maritime security to climate change with the United States, Taiwan’s main military and political backer.
Taiwan’s foreign minister warned on Tuesday that China’s military exercises reflected an ambition to control large swaths of the Western Pacific, while Taipei was conducting its own drills to underscore its willingness to defend itself.
Beijing’s strategy would include controlling the East and South China Seas via the Taiwan Strait and imposing a blockade to prevent the United States and its allies from helping Taiwan in the event of an attack, said Joseph Wu. at a press conference in Taipei.
Beijing extended the ongoing drills without announcing when they would end, though they appeared to have run their course for now.
China’s Defense Ministry and its Eastern Theater Command both issued statements saying the drills had achieved their goals of sending a warning to those favoring formal Taiwan independence and their foreign backers.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party administration are “pushing Taiwan into the abyss of disaster, and sooner or later it will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame!” Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Tan Kefei was quoted in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.
Troops participating in the drills had “effectively tested integrated joint combat capabilities,” the Eastern Theater Command said on its Twitter-like Weixin microblog.
“Theater troops will monitor developments in the Taiwan Strait, continue to conduct military training and preparations, conduct regular combat readiness patrols in the Taiwan Strait, and resolutely uphold national sovereignty and the territorial integrity,” spokesman Colonel Shi Yi said. as told.
Taiwan broke away from the mainland amid civil war in 1949, and its 23 million people overwhelmingly oppose political unification with China while preferring to maintain close economic ties and de facto independence.
Through its maneuvers, China has moved closer to Taiwan’s borders and may seek to establish a new normal in which it could eventually control access to the island’s ports and airspace.
Along with launching missiles into the Taiwan Strait, the nearly week-long drills saw Chinese ships and planes cross the median line in the strait that has long been seen as a buffer against outright conflict.
The United States, Taipei’s main financial backer, has also shown itself ready to deal with Chinese threats. Washington does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan out of deference to Beijing, but is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself and to treat all threats against it as matters of grave concern.
This leaves open the question of whether Washington would send forces if China attacked Taiwan. US President Joe Biden has repeatedly said the United States has an obligation to do so – but staffers quickly walked back those comments.
Beyond geopolitical risks, a protracted crisis in the Taiwan Strait – an important thoroughfare for global trade – could have major implications for international supply chains at a time when the world is already facing disruption. and uncertainty following the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
READ MORE: Taiwan warns Chinese military drills show ambitions to control Western Pacific
In particular, Taiwan is a crucial supplier of computer chips to the global economy, including China’s high-tech sector.
In response to the drills, Taiwan has put its forces on high alert, but has so far refrained from taking active countermeasures.
On Tuesday, his army held live-fire artillery drills in Pingtung County on its southeast coast.
Australia’s recent change in government is a chance to “reset” its troubled relationship with China, but the new administration must “treat the Taiwan issue with caution”, a Chinese envoy said on Wednesday.
China brushed aside foreign criticism of its actions, and its ambassador to Australia said he was “surprised” that Australia had signed a statement with the United States and Japan condemning China’s missile strikes in the waters Japanese in response to Pelosi’s visit.
Xiao Qian told the National Press Club that China wants to resolve the situation peacefully, but “we can never rule out the possibility of using other means.”
“So when necessary, when we are forced to, we are ready to use any means necessary,” Xiao said. “What does it mean by ‘any means necessary?’ You can use your imagination.
In London, the British government summoned Chinese Ambassador Zheng Zeguang to the Foreign Office on Wednesday to demand an explanation of “Beijing’s aggressive and far-reaching escalation against Taiwan” following Pelosi’s visit.
“We have seen increasingly aggressive behavior and rhetoric from Beijing in recent months that threaten peace and stability in the region,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss said. “The UK urges China to resolve any disputes by peaceful means, without the threat or use of force or coercion.”
Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.