A demonstrator holds flags of Taiwan and US in support of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during a stop-over after her visit to Latin America in Burlingame, California, US. File photo/Reuters
China’s defence ministry warned on Wednesday that it was ready for war if there was a move toward Taiwan’s independence, accusing the United States of undermining global stability and denouncing its arms sales to the self-ruled island.
This month, the Pentagon said the US State Department had approved sales of weapons requested by Taiwan, including tanks and Stinger missiles estimated to be worth about $2.2 billion.
China responded by saying it would impose sanctions on US firms involved in such a deal.
China would make its greatest effort for peaceful reunification, defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said.
“However, we must firmly point out that seeking Taiwan independence is a dead end,” Wu told a news briefing on a national defence 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 United States is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China deems a wayward province. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.
Washington has no formal ties with democratic Taiwan, but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself.
The Chinese defence document said the United States had “provoked intensified competition among major countries, significantly increased its defence expenditure ... and undermined global strategic stability.”
China’s defence spending would maintain moderate and steady growth, but it was relatively low, compared to other major countries, it added.
“There is still a wide gap between China’s defence 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 added.
“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.”
The US military said it sent two Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday as the Pentagon increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.
Taiwan’s export orders contracted for an eighth straight month in June, with global companies increasingly hesitant to make new investments in machinery as the China-US trade war wears on.
Taiwan’s air, sea and land forces conducted a drill to repel an invading force on Thursday, as its defence minister pledged to defend the self-ruled island against China’s rising military threat.
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