China’s defense minister made an uncompromising call Monday for the “reunification” of Taiwan with the mainland, telling a high-level defense forum that the process was something “no force” could stop.
Self-ruled Taiwan is viewed by China as a renegade province which will eventually be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.
China will not stop in its efforts towards “realizing the complete reunification of the motherland,” Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe told defense ministers and officials from across Asia at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing.
“China is the only big country in the world that has not yet achieved complete reunification,” he said. “It is something that nobody and no force can stop.”
Relations between Taipei and Beijing have deteriorated since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party refuses to accept that Taiwan is part of “one China.”
Since then China has poached a number of political allies from Taipei, leaving it with a dwindling number of nations that recognize its government.
Wei said China wanted to promote peaceful cross-strait relations, but that it would never allow “Taiwan separatists to make reckless moves, and we will never sit by and watch outside forces … interfere.”
“Engaging in separatism can only be a dead-end,” he said.
His comments come just weeks after a huge military parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
The parade showed off some of the country’s latest high-tech military hardware in a defiant show of strength, including new ballistic missiles, supersonic drones and next-generation battlefield tanks.
Wei also repeated Beijing’s claim that the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea and disputed islands in the South China Sea were an “inherent” part of China’s territory, adding: “We can’t lose a single inch of the land left by our ancestors.”
Beijing claims most of the South China Sea – but the waters are also contested by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan – and the uninhabited Diaoyu islands, which are also claimed by Japan and known there as the Senkakus.
Despite its uncompromising territorial claims, Wei insisted that China’s military ambitions were not aggressive. “China’s development does not pose a threat to any country,” he said.