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China warns of 'drastic measures' if Taiwan moves toward independence

Chinese and Taiwanese flags are displayed alongside military airplanes in this illustration taken on April 9, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

China has warned Chinese Taipei against making moves toward independence, saying it will take "drastic measures" if the self-governed island crosses red lines.

"If separatist forces in Taiwan seeking independence provoke, exert force or even break through any red line, we will have to take drastic measures," Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council, said at a regular news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

The Chinese official said provocation by separatist forces in Taiwan and "external intervention" could intensify in coming months. "Next year, the Taiwan Strait situation will become more complex and severe," he said.

Ma said China was willing to try its utmost to seek peaceful reunification with Taipei but would act if any red lines on independence were crossed.

Tensions between China on the one side and Chinese Taipei and the United States on the other have reached their highest level in decades.

China has been flying fighter jets close to Chinese Taipei while the US has reportedly had troops deployed in the territory for the past year for alleged training purposes.

China has in the past said its military exercises near Chinese Taipei are a "solemn warning" to secessionist factions in the self-ruled island and their foreign backers, particularly the United States.

China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the "One China" policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty. The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but has long courted Taipei in an attempt to unnerve Beijing.

Beijing also opposes other countries pursuing ties with the self-ruled island and has consistently warned against foreign engagement with Chinese Taipei.

Back in October, US President Joe Biden said the United States would come to Taipei's aid if it were to come under attack from China, claiming it had a commitment to defend the self-ruled island. China blasted the statement, accusing Washington of meddling in Chinese internal affairs.

The United States, which backs Taipei's secessionist president, also continues to sell weapons to the island in defiance of Beijing and in violation of its own official policy.

The president of Chinese Taipei, Tsai Ing-wen, was elected in 2016 and has since refused to accept that Taipei is part of China.

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