China says it won't rule out using force to reunify Taiwan
In this Nov. 24, 2018, file photo, supporters of the opposition Nationalist Party cheer in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. China says it will not "renounce the use of force" in efforts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland and vows to take all necessary military measures to defeat "separatists." (AP Photo/File)
BEIJING -- China said it will not renounce the use of force in efforts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland and vowed to take all necessary military measures to defeat "separatists."
In a national defence white paper released Wednesday, China listed among its top priorities its resolve to contain "Taiwan independence" and combat what it considers separatist forces in Tibet and the far west region of Xinjiang.
The paper, published every few years, is an outline of China's national defence policy. Wednesday's report highlighted China's "defensive" approach, but also pledged to "surely counterattack if attacked."
Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the threat of Taiwan separatism is growing and warned that those who are seeking Taiwan independence will meet a dead end.
"It anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will certainly fight, resolutely defending the country's sovereign unity and territorial integrity," Wu said.
Taiwan, a democratically-governed island, split from the Communist Party-ruled mainland China amid civil war in 1949. China maintains that Taiwan is part of its territory and seeks "complete reunification."
The U.S. has repeatedly raised Beijing's ire by selling arms to Taiwan. While the U.S. does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, U.S. law requires that it provide Taiwan with sufficient defence equipment and services for self-defence.
Earlier this month, the U.S. tentatively approved a sale of $2.2 billion in arms to Taiwan -- a proposal which had prompted China to threaten sanctions against the U.S. Taiwan's defence ministry said it made the request in light of a growing military threat from China.
The white paper also pointed to U.S., Japanese and Australian moves to beef up their military presence and alliances in the Asia-Pacific as bringing uncertainties to the region.
The U.S. deployment of a missile defence system in South Korea has severely undermined the regional strategic balance, the report said. It further noted Japan's reinterpretation of its post-World War II constitution to allow its military to operate farther from its shores.
China's military expansion in recent years has prompted concerns among other Pacific countries in a region long dominated by the U.S. Navy.