Taiwan's military situation 'looks bleak' against China says expert
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Beijing’s latest white paper on its position on Taiwan, titled The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era, removed a line included in previous papers that claimed it “will not send troops or administrative personnel to be based in Taiwan” after achieving what China dubs “reunification”.
The move hints at a decision by President Xi Jinping to grant less autonomy to the island, which the Chinese Communist party government (CCP) claims as a breakaway province of China, than previously offered.
The removed line, which was featured in two 1993 and 2000 white papers on Taiwan, meant to assure the island it would enjoy autonomy after becoming a special administrative region of China.
The paper repeated previous proposals by China’s ruling Communist Party that Taiwan return to the “one country, two systems” model, offering the formula under which the former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 as an example.
All mainstream Taiwanese political parties have rejected the “one country, two systems” proposal.
Released by state media on Wednesday, the new documents reiterated China’s resolve to annex Taiwan by force if peaceful means were unsuccessful as they are also missing a lane from the 2000 paper that stated “anything can be negotiated” as long as Taiwan accepts that there is only one China and does not seek independence.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council condemned the white paper, saying it was “full of lies of wishful thinking and disregarded the facts” and that the Republic of China — Taiwan’s official name — was a sovereign state.
The council said: “Only Taiwan’s 23 million people have the right to decide on the future of Taiwan, and they will never accept an outcome set by an autocratic regime.”
While China claims Taiwan as its own, Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island’s future.
The documents were published just as Beijing announced an end to its military drills.
After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei last week, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched live-fire military exercises in seven large zones closely surrounding Taiwan’s main island.
The conclusion of these does not mean Beijing’s efforts are over, officials said, as further “training and war preparation” will continue.
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The official English-language version of the paper read: “We will 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.”
The text did not provide a timeline but did say: “We should not allow this problem to be passed down from one generation to the next.”
It emphasised the use of force would be a “last resort taken under compelling circumstances” and would avoid targeting “fellow Chinese in Taiwan”.
The documents said: “This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities.”
They also claimed unification was the only way to avoid Taiwan being invaded by another country.
Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, accused China of using military drills to prepare for invasion.
He told the media on Tuesday: “China has used the drills in its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan.
“It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyber-attacks, disinformation, and economic coercion, in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan.”
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