Taiwan’s sovereignty is a hotly contested issue in the South China Sea, with Beijing firmly claiming the island as part of Chinese territory. Taiwan has a separate, democratically elected government, and has reported increased military incursions and political pressure from the mainland over recent months. The island has been self-ruling since 1949, but China stakes a claim to it as part of their territory.
The claims have caused tensions with the USA, with Joe Biden previously saying he would defend Taiwan from invasion.
Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office, told a media conference that peaceful reconciliation was favoured by the Chinese government, but that they would be forced to act if independence moves were made by Taipei.
He said: “If separatist forces in Taiwan seeking independence provoke, exert force or even break through any red line, we will have to take drastic measures.”
He added that activities from pro-independence movements in Taiwan, and “external intervention” may become “sharper and more intense” in the new year.
He told the media: “Next year, the Taiwan Strait situation will become more complex and severe.”
Chinese warplanes have made nearly 1,000 incursions into Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone in 2021, according to Bloomberg.
This is more than double that of 2021, with 2022 likely to herald a further increase.
Kuo Yujen, director of Taiwan’s Institute for National Policy Research told Bloomberg: “China will send more military airplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ next year with more intimidating operations.
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Daniel Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, reiterated America’s commitment to Taiwan in a media briefing in Singapore.
He said: “As the threat and coercion from the People’s Republic of China increases, I think we need to respond as well in an appropriate way.”
He added: “We intend to live up to our obligations, our rock-solid obligations and commitments.”
This came after China’s president, Xi Jinping, said that the “reunification” of Taiwan with the mainland “must be fulfilled”.
But Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, rejected this, saying she would do her “utmost to prevent the status quo from being unilaterally altered”.
She added: “The path that China has laid out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people.”
In a speech in which China said “incited confrontation”, Ms Tsai stated “there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure”.
China said: “This speech advocated Taiwan independence, incited confrontation, cut apart history and distorted facts.
“The independence provocation by the Democratic Progressive Party (Tsai’s ruling party) authorities is the source of tension and turbulence in cross-strait relations and the greatest threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”