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Friday, May 24, 2024

China vows crackdown on ‘Taiwan independence’ ahead of local elections

Beijing reiterated its goal of “complete reunification” with the self-governing island

The Chinese military has warned that it would “crush” any attempt by Taiwan to formally declare independence, saying that nothing would stop reunification with the island – including US arms sales.

During a press briefing on Friday – less than one day before Taiwan’s presidential election – military spokesman Zhang Xiaogang said the Beijing government would do everything in its power to prevent the island from breaking away.

Read more: Taiwan president says ties with China must be decided by will of the people

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army remains on high alert at all times and will take all necessary measures to resolutely crush any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist plots and firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

Asked about Taiwan’s efforts to modernize its fleet of US-made F-16 fighter jets, Zhang said that no amount of foreign arms sales would “stop the trend of complete reunification of the motherland.”

Beijing has repeatedly warned against any attempt by Taiwan to declare itself independent, seeing the island as part of China’s sovereign territory. Though Taipei has governed itself since 1949, few countries recognize Taiwan as an independent state, including the US.

Read more: Suspected Chinese weather balloons trigger alarm bells in Taiwan

Washington has, however, maintained informal diplomatic and security ties with the island, and has approved a flurry of military sales worth billions in recent years, repeatedly drawing China’s ire.

While Beijing has stressed that it seeks peaceful reunification with Taiwan, President Xi Jinping has warned that China would take military action if needed.