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China vows to ‘smash plots for independence’ of Taiwan in new year threat to island’s Western allies

Beijing resolves in the new year to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Wednesday 11 January 2023 11:59 GMT
Related: China holds live-fire military drills near India border

China has yet again threatened to attack Taiwan and warned the island’s Western allies that they are “playing with fire” following a visit by foreign delegations.

Beijing said it has resolved in the new year to “safeguard” its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as “smash plots for independence” of the island, said Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan affairs office.

Although Taiwan has been a self-governing democracy since its separation from the mainland following a civil war in 1949, China claims the island is a part of its national territory. Beijing has beefed up its military activity and routinely sends several warplanes and vessels toward Taiwan to bully the island.

The Communist party has not ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Mr Ma said: “The malicious support for Taiwan independence among anti-China elements in a few foreign countries are a deliberate provocation.”

He claimed the rising number of warplanes sent toward Taiwan was in response to the island increasing proximity with Western powers, including the US.

China over the years has responded aggressively to visits by foreign politicians to Taiwan in recent months, including former US House speaker Nancy Pelosi and other MPs from Europe and Japan.

The island’s defence ministry on Monday said at least 57 Chinese planes and four warships were deployed in the war games in 24 hours, which coincided with a visit from German and Lithuanian MPs. The Baltic nation, in particular, has been drawing fire from China due to its renewed ties with Taiwan.

“Democratic Progressive Party authorities have recently intensified military collusion with the US,” he said, in a reference to the ruling party of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.

When asked to expand on the “collusion”, he said the “facts are clear”. “All people living on Earth know it,” Mr Ma added. His remarks hinted at the American lawmakers agreeing to a spending bill that included $2bn in weapons funding for Taiwan next year and as much as $10bn.

Mr Ma said: “We call on the relevant countries to... cease sending the wrong signals to Taiwan independence separatist forces and cease playing with fire on the question of Taiwan.”

He added that China was also “opposed” to the four days of trade talks between officials of the US and Taiwan that will take place in Taipei starting Saturday.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese air force officer Wu Bong-yeng revealed he attended a six-month academic programme with senior Nato officials in Italy.

The lieutenant colonel said he had attended the course at the Nato defence college in Rome in 2021 and returned to Taipei in January last year.

“This was an academic exchange, not a military exchange,” he told reporters from the Hsinchu air base in northern Taiwan.

“Of course, they were very curious about Taiwan. They need to understand our country’s situation, and our abilities,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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