China hardened its language towards Taiwan on Thursday, saying “independence means war.” The warning came after recent stepped up military activities on the island nation. China has long claimed Taiwan as its own territory.
Taiwan began military exercises on Tuesday after several Chinese warplanes entered its air defense space over the weekend. The action led the United States to urge China to stop pressuring Taiwan and reaffirm its support for the independent territory.
At a monthly news briefing Thursday, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian defended its military activities in the Taiwan Strait. He called it a necessary answer to “external forces” and Taiwan’s “independence forces.”
Wu said a “handful” of people in Taiwan were seeking the island’s independence. “We warn those ‘Taiwan independence’ forces: those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war,” he added.
While China has never promised to avoid the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, it is unusual for a government official to make such a threat.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council replied that China should think carefully and not underestimate the island’s determination to defend itself.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported that China sent 13 military aircraft, including four J-10 fighter jets and eight H-6K bombers, into its airspace over the weekend. They were near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the top end of the South China Sea. And Taiwanese air force jets took to the skies in a show of battle readiness.
The Chinese action came as a U.S. carrier battle group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea Saturday. The U.S. military said its purpose there is to demonstrate support for “freedom of the seas.” The move came just days after new U.S. President Joe Biden took office.
Under the administration of former President Donald Trump, the U.S. increased arms sales to the territory and permitted senior American officials to visit the island.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield is President Biden’s nominee to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. During her Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, she called China “a strategic adversary” and added the U.S. needs to “support Taiwan as a democracy.”
China believes that the Taiwan government of President Tsai Ing-wen is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence. But Tsai has repeatedly said it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name.
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English with reporting from Reuters and the Associated Press. Susan Shand was the editor.
Words in This Story
strategic - adj. of or relating to a long term plan to achieve a goal
adversary - n. opponent