One of China’s top Taiwan policymakers said on Monday armed conflict will be unavoidable if the island keeps provoking and pushing for independence, but held out hope for the rivals reopening long-stalled dialogue.
Tension has been simmering since the March re-election of Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who said last week the next two years are key to resuming dialogue with China and suggested the two sides set up a “buffer zone” to avoid accidental military conflict.
“I think it is unavoidable tension will rise in the Taiwan Straits and there may even be armed conflict ... if the island keeps bumping Beijing’s ’one China’ bottom line and pushes for independence,” Wang Zaixi, vice minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office, told Reuters in a rare interview. “The Chen Shui-bian authorities are exploiting our restraint on the Taiwan issue,” he said.
“They are attempting to exploit ... the fact that mainland compatriots are focusing energy on developing the economy and exploit our preparations for the 2008 Olympics,” said Wang, a People’s Liberation Army major general before becoming vice minister in 2000.
But Wang held out hope for the two sides to resume dialogue under the “one China” principle which dictates that the mainland and the island are part of a single country.
Beijing has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since their split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and has threatened to attack the democratic island if it formally declares independence.