China’s government has censured Taiwan for seeking to use the Taiwanese people as “cannon fodder” by extending compulsory military service from four months to one year, starting in 2024.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry in a statement on Wednesday warned that dying for the self-ruled island's separatist activities would be “worthless.”
“We believe that the majority of Taiwan compatriots understand the righteousness and will not serve as cannon fodder for the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” said Wang Wenbin, the spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.
“Realizing the complete reunification of the motherland is the common will of all Chinese people and an unstoppable historical trend," Wang told a news conference in Beijing while responding to Taiwan’s decision to reinstate mandatory one-year military service for conscripts.
He further said that "struggling for the great task of achieving national reunification is immeasurably significant, dying for Taiwan independence separatist activities" was "completely worthless".
Wang said Beijing believes “Taiwan compatriots are highly principled, they will not be put up as cannon fodder by Taiwan independence separatist forces.”
On Tuesday, the president of the self-governing island, Tsai Ing-wen, extended the mandatory military service due to “China's intimidation and threats against Taiwan.”
Tsai called the decision “incredibly difficult” and said the island needed better forces because the current military system would be inadequate in the event of a swift attack on Taiwan. Soldiers can receive more detailed training and learn how to use weapons such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
Earlier this week, Taiwanese authorities claimed to have spotted more than 70 Chinese military aircraft and reconnaissance drones as well as several naval vessels near the island. The Chinese army had previously announced “strike drills” in the region.
China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the "One China" policy, virtually all world countries recognize that sovereignty, meaning they would not establish direct diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Taipei.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory. Taiwan has complained of repeated Chinese military activity nearby over the past three years or so as Beijing seeks to pressure Taipei to accept Chinese sovereignty. China staged war games around Taiwan in August following a visit to Taipei by then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Some US allies in Europe have also been increasing visits to Taipei, despite strong objections by Beijing.
The United States is Taiwan's great backer and arms supplier, despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations. US arms sales to Taiwan are a constant irritant in Beijing's relations with Washington.