Vastavam web: China’s defence minister warned Thursday that the military would do “whatever it takes” to stop any attempt to “split” Taiwan from the mainland, days after a pro-independence protest on the island and a US naval operation. Beijing considers the self-ruled, democratic island to be part of its territory awaiting reunification, even though the two sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949.
“It is extremely dangerous to repeatedly challenge China’s limits on this issue,” Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe said at the Xiangshan Forum, a regional security dialogue hosted by Beijing. Tens of thousands of Taiwan independence campaigners took to the streets of Taipei on Saturday for a major rally that was a rebuke to Beijing and a challenge to the island’s embattled government.
Then on Monday US warships conducted “freedom of navigation” exercises in the Taiwan Strait, a 180-kilometre wide stretch of water separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan — the second such manoeuvre in three months. The USS Curtis Wilbur and USS Antietam conducted a routine transit to demonstrate US commitment “to a free and open Indo-Pacific”, US Colonel Rob Manning said earlier this week. For its part, Beijing recently conducted a series of military manoeuvres, including a live fire exercise in the Taiwan Strait in April, declaring its willingness to confront Taiwan’s “independence forces.” Washington remains Taipei’s most powerful unofficial ally and its main arms supplier, despite switching diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.