China warns it will not tolerate Taiwan ‘separatists’

Thursday, Aug 11, 2022

BEIJING: China on Wednesday vowed zero tolerance for "separatist activities" in Taiwan and reaffirmed that it would take the self-ruled island by force if necessary.

The warning from Beijing, which considers Taiwan its territory, came after days of unprecedented Chinese military drills around the island sparked by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip.

Pelosi last week became the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in decades despite stark threats from China, which tries to keep Taipei isolated on the world stage.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Wednesday issued a white paper laying out how it intends to claim the island through a range of economic incentives and military pressure.

"We are ready to create vast space for peaceful reunification, but we will leave no room for separatist activities in any form," said the paper. China will "not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures". It added, however: "We will only be forced to take drastic measures to respond to the provocation of separatist elements or external forces should they ever cross our red lines."

China last issued a white paper on Taiwan in 2000. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the island’s top policymaking body on China, rejected the paper and said the document "is full of... lies".

"Taiwan maintains that ‘neither side belongs to the other’, and firmly refuses ‘one country, two systems’ -- this is the current status of the Taiwan Strait and the reality," it said in a statement.

"One country, two systems" refers to the model under which Hong Kong and Macau were promised a degree of autonomy under Chinese rule. It has been proposed by Beijing as a solution for Taiwan.

The release of the white paper came on the same day that a top Taiwan opposition politician flew to China for meetings with Taiwanese businesspeople, prompting condemnation from Taipei which had called on him to cancel the trip.

Andrew Hsia, deputy chairman of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party, travelled to China with a delegation in an unofficial capacity and was not scheduled to visit the capital. He will quarantine for 10 days and return to Taiwan on August 27, the party said in a statement.

But President Tsai Ing-wen criticised him for travelling across the Taiwan Strait after days of Chinese military drills around the island. "At this moment, the Kuomintang still insisted on going to China, disappointing our people. The Kuomintang’s actions are also sending the wrong message to the international community," Tsai told a meeting of her ruling party on Wednesday.

Since the late 1990s, the island has transformed from an autocracy into a vibrant democracy, and a distinct Taiwanese identity has emerged. Relations between the two sides have significantly worsened since Tsai became president in 2016. Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party do not consider Taiwan to be part of China.