China ‘must strike back’ after US official visits Taiwan

Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan an inviolable part of its territory

Closer ties: Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen toasts with American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei chairman Albert Chang and Alex Wong, US deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  Photograph: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

Closer ties: Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen toasts with American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei chairman Albert Chang and Alex Wong, US deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Photograph: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

 

A popular state-run tabloid has urged China to increase pressure on the US over its growing closeness with Taiwan, and said it should consider military force after Washington passed a law boosting ties with the self-ruled island.

Beijing was incensed when earlier this month, US president Donald Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act, legislation that encourages visits between the high-ranking US and Taiwanese officials. Taiwan has diplomatic relations with just a handful of countries, but the legislation gave a boost to Taiwan’s diplomatic status.

The Global Times said in an editorial that China had to “strike back” against the law and said China could pressure the US in areas of bilateral co-operation such as on the Korean nuclear issue, and also at the United Nations.

“The mainland must increase military pressure on Taiwan and prepare for the direct military clash. One thing we must do is make clear that the escalation of US-Taiwan exchanges will indeed bring harm to Taiwan,” said the editorial.

The Global Times adopts a strongly nationalist stance, especially on Taiwan, always a hot-button issue for China’s Communist Party. The paper is published by the same state media group that publishes the party’s official organ, People’s Daily.

“The Global Times has previously suggested that the mainland can send military planes and warships across the Taiwan Straits middle line. This can be implemented gradually as the cross-Straits situation escalates,” it said.

Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist KMT fled to Taiwan after they lost the civil war to the Communists in 1949.

Mainland China considers democratic Taiwan an inviolable part of its territory and regularly accuses president Tsai Ing-wen of steering the country towards independence.

Sticks and flowers

Although the US ceased formal diplomatic relations in 1979, it is required by law to protect the island should it come under threat.

US deputy assistant secretary of state Alex Wong was the first senior official to visit the island since the new law was enacted. Mr Wong said in Taipei that Washington’s commitment to Taiwan has never been stronger and the island was an inspiration to the rest of the Indo-Pacific region.

Since the end of the civil war in China, Taiwan has been a military flashpoint. This week the Chinese sent their Liaoning aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait, prompting Taiwan to respond by sending warships and planes to tail the carrier group.

Pro-unification rhetoric is always tougher around the National People’s Congress, China’s annual parliament that ended this week.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, said Taiwan would face “the punishment of history” if it tried to declare independence. “Any actions and tricks to split China are doomed to failure and will be condemned by the people and punished by history,” he said.

The Global Times warned that it was a “misunderstanding to think that peaceful reunification process is a harmonious and cheerful process”.

“Taiwan authorities will only be forced to turn back when they have no other ways. On the road to peaceful reunification, sticks are more important than flowers,” it said.