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According to Reuters, a senior Chinese official issued a statement this week in a state-run newspaper saying Taiwan will come under Chinese control due to the economic, political, social, cultural, and military superiority of the Chinese “motherland.”
Writing in the influential state-run newspaper the Study Times, Liu Junchuan, head of the liaison office of China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, said China’s growing economic, political, and diplomatic power means it is achieving an “overwhelming advantage” in bringing Taiwan to heel.
China’s ongoing economic growth means its economy far exceeds that of Taiwan, the self-ruled, democratic island that China claims is part of its own territory. Liu asserts this trend will only continue.
“The swift development and massive changes in the mainland of the motherland are creating an increasingly strong attraction for the people of Taiwan,” he wrote, according to Reuters.
“The contrast in power across the Taiwan Strait will become wider and wider, and we will have a full, overwhelming strategic advantage over Taiwan,” Liu also added. “The economic, political, social, cultural and military conditions for achieving the complete reunification of the motherland will become even more ample.”
Barely a day later, Reuters also reported that Taiwan’s defense ministry claimed the Chinese air force had performed exercises near the island 16 times in the last year. According to the defense ministry, 15 of the 16 drills were around Taiwan and flew through the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines, as well as near Japan’s Miyako island to the north.
China claims the drills are routine, but Taiwan views China as its biggest security threat. According to the Military Times, these Chinese drills have cut off access to the island’s “dwindling list of allies.”
“The Chinese military’s strength continues to grow rapidly,” the Defense Ministry reportedly said. “There have been massive developments in military reforms, combined operations, weapons development and production, the building of overseas military bases and military exercises, and the military threat towards us grows daily.”
Reuters also noted that barely a few weeks ago, a senior Chinese diplomat threatened a full-on invasion if U.S. warships were ever to make port visits there. The U.S. is obligated under the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to support Taiwan in its bid to defend itself from China. Under the Trump administration, this could prove to be a likely scenario.
“The day that a U.S. Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung [Taiwan’s main deep-water port] is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force,” Chinese official Li Kexin recently warned.
At the end of December, the Trump administration reaffirmed it would continue to attempt its balancing act between maintaining relations with China while also supplying arms to Taiwan.
“We will maintain our strong ties with Taiwan in accordance with our ‘One China’ policy, including our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide for Taiwan’s legitimate defense needs and deter coercion,” the newly released U.S. national security strategy stated.
The developments recently pushed Taiwan’s mainland affairs minister, Chang Hsiao-Yueh, to issue a warning in response.
“If they invade Taiwan militarily they will pay a very very high price. And so far I believe that’s the last resort if all the other means [of unification] are failed then finally they will do that,” she said during a briefing in Taipei, according to a National Interest report last Monday.