China considering strong steps to contain Taiwan

Reuters, BEIJING

Tue, Jan 03, 2017 - Page 3

China’s military has become alarmed by what it sees as US president-elect Donald Trump’s support of Taiwan and is considering strong measures to prevent the nation from moving toward independence, sources with ties to senior military officers said.

Three sources said one possibility being considered was conducting war games near Taiwan.

Another was a series of economic measures to cripple the nation.

It was not clear whether any decisions had been taken, but the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Taiwan issue had become a hot topic within the upper echelons of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in recent weeks.

Trump, due to take office on Jan. 20, spoke to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) by telephone on Dec. 2, breaking decades of precedent and casting doubt on his incoming administration’s commitment to Beijing’s “one China” policy.

Beijing fears this could embolden supporters of independence in Taiwan.

“If Trump challenges ‘one China’ after becoming [US] president, this would cross our red line,” said another source, who has ties to China’s leadership.

China’s Ministry of National Defense declined to comment.

An official at the ministry’s news department said China’s position was clearly laid out in its 2005 “Anti Secession Law,” which authorizes the use of force against Taiwan in the event China judges it to have seceded.

Asked about any possible aggressive moves from China, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said: “We are fully prepared and plan for the worst while preparing for the best.”

Chinese officials have accused Taiwan of creating trouble rather than Trump, and many of them believe he will be more accommodating to Beijing once in office.

“We are ready. If Taiwan wants to make trouble so can we. Let us hit them hard,” said an official in Beijing who meets regularly with China’s most senior military officers, including those who work directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

“We can hold exercises close to Taiwan and show them the damage we could cause. Taiwan will have to give in then,” the official added, citing a recent conversation with one of the military officers.