Taiwan has been separate from mainland China since the nationalists lost the Chinese Civil War and were forced from the mainland in 1949. The official name of Taiwan is the Republic of China (ROC) and it claims to be the legitimate successor to the pre-war Chinese government instead of the current communist party led People’s Republic of China (PRC). Li Zuocheng, chief of the joint staff department declared in Beijing: “If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions.
“We do not promise to abandon the use of force and reserve the option to take all necessary measures, to stabilise and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait.”
Politics in Taiwan is split into two loose camps – pan-blue who favour some form of unification with the mainland and pan-green who favour Taiwanese independence.
Though President Tsai Ing-wen is in the latter camp she has said a unilateral declaration of independence is unnecessary due to Taipei’s de facto independence.
A declaration of independence will also cross a red line for Beijing and General Li’s remarks came on the 15th anniversary of an anti-subversion law, which calls on China to use force if Taiwan does declare independence or is about to.
Chinese soldiers at the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the PRC
Xi Jinping is Chinese President
The island’s mainland affairs council added: “Taiwan’s people will neither choose dictatorship nor bow to violence.
“Force and unilateral decisions are not the way to resolve problems.”
Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, echoed General Li’s sentiments.
He added: “As long as there is a slightest chance of a peaceful resolution, we will put in hundred times the effort.
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Tsai Ing-Wen is the Taiwanese President
“We warn Taiwan’s pro-independence and separatist forces sternly, the path of Taiwan independence leads to a dead end; any challenge to this law will be severely punished.”
The model of ‘one country, two system’ which has been used to govern Hong Kong since 1997 and Macau since 1999, was designed for reunification with Taiwan.
The concept which would, in theory, allow Taiwan a degree of autonomy within a Greater China has been rejected by Taipei.
However, Hong Kong’s autonomy is under the spotlight following plans to introduce a new national security law which would criminalise anything that potentially undermines Chinese authority was proposed.
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General Li Zuocheng is the chief of the joint staff department
Speaking earlier to express.co.uk, Kenneth Chan, formerly the chairman of the Hong Kong Civic Party said: “If, by violating Art. 23 and its own Basic Law, and by saying that Beijing can do anything as the ultimate power over Hong Kong, there is nothing left in the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ formula to safeguard the city.”
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Hong Kong can no longer be considered autonomous from China due to the proposals.
President Xi Jinping last January made a speech in which he mentioned the possibility of the use of military force to reunite China and Taiwan.
Chinese military might compared to the US
Nonetheless, the public nature of General Li’s threat will come as a surprise to some.
Due to the One China doctrine, nations can only recognise one of the PRC or ROC.
Currently, just 14 UN number states and one observer state recognise the ROC.
Li Zhanshu is the head of the legislative branch of the Chinese government
The ROC does, however, maintain unofficial relations with 57 nations through various representative offices.
It maintains unofficial relations with the US and UK.