Beijing says ready for war over Taiwan independence

SECRET ALLIANCE?:A Chinese defense official said thyat reports of a pact with Phnom Penh to give China’s armed forces to have access to a Cambodian naval base are false

Reuters, BEIJING

Thu, Jul 25, 2019 - Page 3

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense yesterday warned that it was ready for war if there was a move toward Taiwan’s independence, accusing Washington of undermining global stability and denouncing its arms sales to Taipei.

The Pentagon earlier this month said that the US Department of State had approved sales of weapons requested by Taiwan, including tanks and Stinger surface-to-air missiles, estimated to be worth about US$2.2 billion.

China responded by saying that it would impose sanctions on US firms involved in such a deal.

China would make its greatest effort for peaceful unification, ministry spokesman Wu Qian (吳謙) said.

“However, we must firmly point out that seeking Taiwan independence is a dead end,” Wu told a news briefing on a national defense white paper, the first in several years to outline the military’s strategic concerns.

“If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China’s military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” he said.

The US is the main arms supplier to Taiwan. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the nation under its control.

Washington has no formal ties with democratic Taiwan, but is bound by its own law to help provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.

The defense white paper said that the US had “provoked intensified competition among major countries, significantly increased its defense expenditure ... and undermined global strategic stability.”

China’s defense spending would maintain moderate and steady growth, but it was relatively low, compared with other major countries, it added.

“There is still a wide gap between China’s defense expenditure and the requirements for safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests,” it said.

Reports of a secret pact with Cambodia granting China’s armed forces exclusive access to part of the Southeast Asian nation’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand were not in accordance with the facts, Wu said.

“China and Cambodia have in the past carried out positive exchanges and cooperation on military drills, personnel training and logistics,” he said. “This kind of cooperation does not target any third party.”

In Taipei, Presidential Office spokesman Ting Yun-kung (丁允恭) said it was regrettable that the white paper was riddled with vitriol targeting Taiwan, while failing to show the slightest commitment to help maintain regional peace and stability.

China views Taiwan’s democratic way of life as a way to project “hostility” and its cooperation with the international community as “colluding with the West,” which are a departure from the truth, Ting said.

Taiwan would not concede one bit in defending its democracy and freedom, or cower in upholding its national security, he said.

Additional reporting by Su Yung-yao