China repeated military threats against Taiwan – while appearing to wind down war games near the self-governing island it claims as its own territory that have raised tensions between the two sides to their highest level in years.
A statement issued on Wednesday by the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office and its news department came after almost a week of missile firings and incursions into Taiwanese waters and airspace by Chinese warships and air force planes.
The actions have disrupted flights and shipping in a region crucial to global supply chains, prompting strong condemnation from the US, Japan and others.
An English-language version of the Chinese statement said Beijing would “work with the greatest sincerity and exert our utmost efforts to achieve peaceful reunification”.
“But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities,” the statement said.
“We will always be ready to respond with the use of force or other necessary means to interference by external forces or radical action by separatist elements. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the prospects of China’s peaceful reunification and advance this process.”
China says the threatening moves were prompted by a visit to Taiwan last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Taiwan says such visits are routine and that China used that merely as a pretext to up its threats.
In an additional response to Ms Pelosi’s visit, China said it was cutting off dialogue on issues from maritime security to climate change with the US, Taiwan’s chief military and political backer.
Taiwan’s foreign minister warned on Tuesday that the Chinese military drills reflect ambitions to control large swaths of the western Pacific, while Taipei conducted its own exercises to underscore its readiness to defend itself.
Taiwan split with the mainland amid civil war in 1949 and the island’s 23 million people overwhelmingly oppose political unification with China, while preferring to maintain close economic links and the status quo of de-facto independence.
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