Jan. 28 (UPI) — In some of the strongest language yet regarding Taiwan, Chinese Defense officials said Thursday that a move toward independence for the island might also mean a step toward war.
Defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian told reporters at a news conference that Beijing takes a dim view of attempts by Taiwan to achieve full sovereignty.
“Those who play with fire will only burn themselves,” Wu said.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will take all necessary measures to resolutely thwart any form of Taiwan independence separatist attempts and firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Beijing has increased its military presence in the Taiwan Strait recently to send a message to Taiwanese President TsaiIng-wen about his support for independence.
A representative of Taiwan attended last week’s inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, a sign of the new administration’s support for the island, which China has long claimed as part of its country.
The two have even had a decades-long dispute over their names. Taiwan formally calls itself the Republic of China, and mainland China calls itself the People’s Republic of China. Most of the world, including the United States, recognizes the mainland as China and the island as Taiwan under the “One China policy.”
Wu’s comments come one day after Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said at her Senate confirmation hearing that the United States must help Taiwan against China’s tightening grip on the island.
“[Taiwan is] one of the strongest democracies in the region,” she said. “[We should] stand by them.”
Thomas-Greenfield also said in her remarks that as U.N. ambassador, she intends to keep a close eye on any moves China makes toward authoritarian goals.