China in chilling warning to Taiwan over invasion
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Chinese ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian told Sky News that China has been “waiting so patiently for more than seven decades” for the reunification of Taiwan, suggesting they are not willing to hold on much longer before invading. In tones reminiscent of Russia regarding the invasion of Ukraine, in which officials have spoken as if it is the aggressor’s right to have control over the neighbouring nation, Mr Xiao said the point has gone beyond the “reeducation” of secessionists determined to remain independent of China. And as Liz Truss begins her premiership in Downing Street, British relations with China look set to become more strained, with the new PM continuing her hardline against foreign aggression.
Mr Xiao said: “The policies for peaceful reunification, that is why we have been waiting so patiently for more than seven decades. We are waiting for a peaceful reunification. But we cannot rule out other options.”
Sky News Australia reporter Jonathan Lea said: “That is taking the islands by force and it is a chilling warning for those that advocate democracy.”
Mr Xiao said: “For those secessionists [advocating continued independence from China], it is not a question of reeducation, they are going to be punished according to the law.”
The segment then cuts to an interview with a resident of the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, called Kathy, who said: “We are different from China. We have many thoughts, our living habits are different. So, I do not think there should be any punishment for independence.”
Asked if it changed her mind when she saw what happened with China “crushing” Hong Kong, Kathy said: “Yes, for sure.”
In the latest developments in the Indo-Pacific, tanks pounded targets and fighter jets roared overhead on Wednesday as Taiwan’s military carried out its latest combat drills after weeks of sabre-rattling by giant neighbour China.
China, which claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, has been holding exercises around the island since a visit to Taipei last month by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Taiwan, which rejects China’s sovereignty claims, has repeatedly stressed its calm reaction to Beijing’s activities, but that it also has the resolve and ability to defend itself if needed.
“Ground combat readiness training is an essential duty of the armed forces and is also something that we have to do each day and every moment,” defence ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang told reporters on a government-organized visit to Pingtung in Taiwan’s far south to see the drills.
“Regarding defence operations in Taiwan and its outlying islands, we conduct our exercises with the attitude of reacting to threats according to terrain and being able to fight everywhere to complete our duty of increasing war preparedness,” he added.
Taiwan’s armed forces are well-equipped but dwarfed by China’s. President Tsai Ing-wen has been overseeing a modernisation programme and has made increasing defence spending a priority.
Meanwhile, British relations with the evermore aggressive China are likely to become more strained as one of the UK’s firmest critics of China Liz Truss took head office Tuesday.
Relations between London and Beijing have been worsening in the last decade as Britain has grown worried that an open door to Chinese investment could pose national security risks, and that China’s military and economic assertiveness may be acting against its post-Brexit free trade agenda.
The souring relations are expected to grow worse as Ms Truss views China as a threat to the rules-based international order that has governed post-World War Two trade and diplomacy, and she sees it as her role to build a bulwark against that.
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“Countries must play by the rules and that includes China,” she said in a high-profile speech earlier this year, adding that Beijing was “rapidly building a military capable of projecting power deep into areas of European strategic interest”.
Ms Truss warned that if China failed to play by global rules it would cut short its rise as a superpower and it should learn from the West’s robust economic response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
She said that China’s rise was not inevitable and the West should ensure that Taiwan, which Beijing says is its own territory, can defend itself.
The Global Times, published by China’s Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily, has dubbed the new Prime Minister a “radical populist” and said she should drop the “outdated imperial mentality”.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Tuesday that she hopes relations with Britain will remain “on the right track”.
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