Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told Sky News in an interview published Wednesday that China’s military forces “seem to be preparing for their final military assault against Taiwan.”
Taiwan is a sovereign state with no political ties to the Communist Party that has never in its history been governed by Beijing. The Party nonetheless regards Taiwan as a rogue province under the occupation of “secessionist” forces and has repeatedly vowed to colonize the island.
Wu expressed defiance in the face of a prospective invasion from one of the world’s largest militaries.
“This is our country, this is our people and this is our way of life. We will defend ourselves to the very end,” he said. “We are trying to safeguard the status quo that Taiwan is a free and democratic country, that Taiwan is not run by China.”
Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, became an independent nation in 1949 when nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-shek evacuated China following their defeat at the hands of Mao Zedong’s communist faction during the Chinese Civil War.
The functionally separate Chinese states, centered in Beijing and Taipei, both agree in principle in that there is a singular “China” in the world. Beijing’s “One China Principle” insists Taiwan is legitimately a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Conversely, Taipei insists its government represents the sole, legitimate China.
Appearing to confirm, or at least validate, Wu’s fears, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced Wednesday it would “leave no room for Taiwan secessionist activities in any form,” according to the state-run propaganda outlet the Global Times. Beijing considers any acknowledgment of Taiwan’s reality as a sovereign state as “secession.”
Wu’s interview and the PLA statement come as China ramps up its intrusions into Taiwanese waters in the South China Sea and works to build up its navy, a vital prerequisite for any sort of amphibious assault on Taiwan. The Global Times noted that the Chinese Navy on Friday commissioned its first Type 075 amphibious assault ship, the Hainan, alongside the destroyer-class vessel Dalian and the nuclear submarine Changzheng 18.
Earlier in April, the propaganda outlet reported on a series of military drills the PLA conducted near Taiwan with “the largest number of warplanes ever recorded” and speculated that the training exercises “could be a rehearsal of a reunification-by-force operation.”
On the Taiwanese side, the government has not stood idle amid the military escalations, commissioning the Chiayi on Thursday, the first of a fleet of coastguard vessels meant for quick adaption to warships in a war scenario, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
The foreign minister asserted that Taiwan’s sovereignty was a matter of international concern, as it stood in the way of China’s other territorial ambitions.
“Taiwan happens to be on the frontline of China’s expansion of its authoritarian order,” he said. “And if Taiwan is taken by China, I think the consequences will be global.”
Emphasizing that point, Wu further acknowledged the UK’s decision to dispatch an aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the area amid mounting tensions.
“For the UK to think about sending military surface ships to this part of the world, to show that the UK cares, is also welcomed,” he told Sky News.
The Communist Party of China is currently struggling with a variety of domestic problems including the ongoing Chinese coronavirus pandemic, unrest in Hong Kong, and a significantly declining birth rate.
Wu suggested China’s increased aggression towards Taiwan was an effort to distract from mounting pressures at home, noting, “Very often an authoritarian state experiencing difficulties will actively create a crisis externally to divert domestic attention.”