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China Reaffirms Taiwan Threat          08/10 06:09

   

   BEIJING (AP) -- China on Wednesday reaffirmed its threat to use military 
force to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control, amid threatening 
Chinese military exercises that have raised tensions between the sides to their 
highest level in years.

   The lengthy policy statement issued by the Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office 
and its news department followed almost a week of missile firings and 
incursions into Taiwanese waters and airspace by Chinese warships and air force 
planes.

   The actions have disrupted flights and shipping in a region crucial to 
global supply chains, prompting strong condemnation from the U.S., Japan and 
others.

   An English-language version of the Chinese statement said Beijing would 
"work with the greatest sincerity and exert our utmost efforts to achieve 
peaceful reunification."

   "But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of 
taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against external interference 
and all separatist activities," the statement said.

   "We will always be ready to respond with the use of force or other necessary 
means to interference by external forces or radical action by separatist 
elements. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the prospects of China's peaceful 
reunification and advance this process," it said.

   China says the threatening moves were prompted by a visit to Taiwan last 
week by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Taiwan says such visits are 
routine and that China used that merely as a pretext to up its threats.

   In an additional response to Pelosi's visit, China said it was cutting off 
dialogue on issues from maritime security to climate change with the U.S., 
Taiwan's chief military and political backer.

   Taiwan's foreign minister warned Tuesday that the Chinese military drills 
reflect ambitions to control large swaths of the western Pacific, while Taipei 
conducted its own exercises to underscore its readiness to defend itself.

   Beijing's strategy would include controlling the East and South China seas 
via the Taiwan Strait and imposing a blockade to prevent the U.S. and its 
allies from aiding Taiwan in the event of an attack, Joseph Wu told a news 
conference in Taipei.

   Beijing extended the ongoing exercises without announcing when they would 
end, although they appear to have run their course for the time being.

   China's Defense Ministry and its Eastern Theater Command both issued 
statements saying the exercises had achieved their targets of sending a warning 
to those favoring Taiwan's formal independence and their foreign backers.

   Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party 
administration are "pushing Taiwan into the abyss of disaster and sooner or 
later will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame!" Defense Ministry 
spokesperson Col. Tan Kefei was quoted as saying in a statement posted to the 
ministry's website.

   Troops taking part in the exercises had "effectively tested integrated joint 
combat capabilities," the Eastern Theater Command said on its Twitter-like 
Weixin microblog.

   "The theater troops will monitor changes in the situation in the Taiwan 
Strait, continue to conduct military training and preparations, organize 
regular combat readiness patrols in the Taiwan Strait, and resolutely defend 
national sovereignty and territorial integrity," spokesperson Col. Shi Yi was 
quoted as saying.

   Taiwan split with the mainland amid civil war in 1949 and the island's 23 
million people overwhelmingly oppose political unification with China, while 
preferring to maintain close economic links and the status quo of de-facto 
independence.

   Through its maneuvers, China has pushed closer to Taiwan's borders and may 
be seeking to establish a new normal in which it could eventually control 
access to the island's ports and airspace.

   Along with lobbing missiles into the Taiwan Strait, the nearly week-long 
drills saw Chinese ships and planes crossing the center line in the strait that 
has long been seen as a buffer against outright conflict.

   The U.S., Taipei's main backer, has also shown itself to be willing to face 
down China's threats. Washington has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 
deference to Beijing, but is legally bound to ensure the island can defend 
itself and to treat all threats against it as matters of grave concern.

   That leaves open the question of whether Washington would dispatch forces if 
China attacked Taiwan. U.S. President Joe Biden has said repeatedly the U.S. is 
bound to do so -- but staff members have quickly walked back those comments.

   Beyond the geopolitical risks, an extended crisis in the Taiwan Strait -- a 
significant thoroughfare for global trade -- could have major implications for 
international supply chains at a time when the world is already facing 
disruptions and uncertainty in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the war 
in Ukraine.

   In particular, Taiwan is a crucial provider of computer chips for the global 
economy, including China's high-tech sectors.

   In response to the drills, Taiwan has put its forces on alert, but has so 
far refrained from taking active countermeasures.

   On Tuesday, its military held live-fire artillery drills in Pingtung County 
on its southeastern coast.

   Australia's recent change of government was a chance to "reset" its troubled 
relationship with China, but the new administration must "handle the Taiwan 
question with caution," a Chinese envoy said Wednesday.

   China has brushed aside foreign criticism of its actions, and its ambassador 
to Australia said Wednesday he was "surprised" that Australia had signed a 
statement with the United States and Japan that condemned China's firing of 
missiles into Japanese waters in response to Pelosi's visit.

   Xiao Qian told the National Press Club China wanted to resolve the situation 
peacefully, but "we can never rule out the option to use other means."

   "So when necessary, when compelled, we are ready to use all necessary 
means," Xiao said. "As to what does it mean by 'all necessary means?' You can 
use your imagination."

 
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