Taiwan must prepare for war with China as the ‘threat is real’, minister warns

China: Tom Tugendhat discusses stance on Taiwan

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Beijing has scrambled jets over Taiwan almost every day this year, and frequently carries out military drills simulating an invasion of the island. Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu has warned the country “cannot take any chances” with China.

Speaking to CNN, Mr Wu repeated calls for preparation ahead of possible conflict with China.

On Wednesday, from capital Taipei City, he said: “As Taiwan decision-makers, we cannot take any chances, we have to be prepared.

“When the Chinese government is saying they would not renounce the use of force, and they conduct military exercises around Taiwan, we would rather believe that it is real.”

The minister insisted Taiwan cannot accept unification with China, pointing to Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong as an example of a need to protect itself.

Last July, Beijing introduced a national security law in Hong Kong which criminalises what authorities deem to be acts of subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces.

On Wednesday, the Chinese Government forced the closure of Hong Kong’s biggest independent newspaper, Apple Daily.

Mr Wu, reacting to the shut down, said: “If you look at the situation in Hong Kong, it is a modern tragedy.

“The Apple Daily in Hong Kong is a symbol of independent journalism, and the Chinese government’s motivation is to knock down that symbol.

“It is very sad for me to see what’s happening. Taiwan is already a democracy.

“When an overwhelming majority of people here in Taiwan are saying no to one thing, no political leader is going to entertain that idea.”

Mr Wu’s comments come as Taiwan reported the largest daily incursion from Chinese fighter jets this year on June 17.

Beijing scrambled 28 warplanes, including fighter jets and bombers, near Taiwanese sovereign airspace in what the island sees as a show of strength.

Mr Wu also accused China of using hybrid warfare to undermine public confidence in Taiwan’s democracy.

He told CNN: “(China) uses cognitive warfare, disinformation campaigns and military intimidation to create a lot of anxiety among the Taiwanese people.”

However, he also stressed Taipei is willing to work with Beijing in achieving peace across the Taiwan Strait, adding: “People here in Taiwan want peace, and that is what the government of Taiwan wants as well.

“And other than peace, we also want dialogue between Taiwan and China. But of course, it takes two to tango.”

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Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province, and has repeatedly threatened to use military force to reunite the island with the mainland.

Mr Wu was branded a “diehard separatist” by Beijing in May after he told reporters Taiwan would fight “to the very last day” if attacked.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said of the foreign minister: “Stopping ‘Taiwan independence’ is the necessary condition for maintaining peaceful cross-strait relations.

“Joseph Wu has repeatedly and arrogantly provoked ‘Taiwan independence’.

“We will take all necessary measures to severely punish such ‘Taiwan independence’ diehards for life in accordance with the law.”

The US and UK both have “unofficial” relations with Taiwan, with Washington recently sending the USS Curtis Wilbur to the Taiwan Straits.

China blasted the US for sending the warship on Tuesday, calling Washington the South China Sea’s biggest “risk creator”.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said: “The US side is intentionally playing the same old tricks and creating trouble and disrupting things in the Taiwan Strait.”

The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet disputed this and claimed the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” in accordance with international law.

They added: “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

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