Applying military pressure on Taiwan is “essential” for Beijing to achieve “reunification” with the island, China’s state-run Global Times argued on Monday.
Beijing regards Taiwan, a sovereign state, as a breakaway province and has vowed to reunify the island with China by force if necessary. The island, located off China’s southeastern coast, is democratically ruled through its own constitution and operates its own military.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has ramped up military drills near Taiwan in recent months in a bid to intimidate the island amid deteriorating diplomatic ties between Beijing and Taipei. The PLA exercises, which include air and sea drills, often violate Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The island’s defense minister in October said Taiwan was forced to scramble its jets 2,972 times over the past year to defend the island from such incursions and that the defensive actions cost Taiwan nearly $900 million.
“[R]eunification between the mainland and the island of Taiwan will not be realized without military pressure,” the Global Times quoted “experts from the two sides of the Taiwan Straits” as saying on December 5 at an annual forum hosted by the newspaper in Beijing. Taiwan has never in its history been ruled by Beijing, but the Communist Party nonetheless uses the word “reunification” to mean annexing Taiwan.
“[T]he possibility of peaceful reunification of Taiwan is diminishing,” Wang Zaixi, a “former deputy director of the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits of the State Council and vice president of the National Society of Taiwan Studies,” said at Saturday’s forum.
Chiu Yi, a Taiwan-based “expert on cross-Straits relations and a TV commentator,” said at the forum that Taiwanese “reunification” may happen, but only through continued military pressure from China.
“If it means reunification without pressure from the mainland, then peaceful reunification won’t happen. If it means peaceful reunification under military pressure, then it would be possible,” he said.
The forum took place shortly after Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on December 1 that the “risk” for a future military conflict between China and Taiwan is now “much higher than before” based on the PLA’s increased military aggression toward the island.
“The tension is rising and Taiwan is feeling the heat,” Wu revealed.
“If you look at the Chinese military activities around Taiwan, it’s been intensifying. There were several times [recently] that the Chinese jet fighters crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait,” the diplomat noted.
“I cannot predict that the war is going to take place next year or the year after, things like that, but if you look at the preparation on the Chinese side, we have to be very concerned about the real prospect of China launching a military attack against Taiwan,” Wu warned.