Relations between China and Taiwan are grim and the mainland will crush any major moves towards independence by the island no matter what the cost, the government said in a policy paper on national defense on Monday.
The comments came as China’s parliament discussed a draft anti-secession law that analysts say may contain clauses that would legally bind Beijing to take military action if the island Beijing claims as a renegade province ever declared independence.
Taiwan split from the mainland at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, but Beijing still sees the self-governing island of 23 million as part of China and has pledged to bring it back to the fold, by force if necessary.
“The situation in the relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits is grim,” the defense white paper said.
“Should the Taiwan authorities go so far as to make a reckless attempt that constitutes a major incident of ’Taiwan independence’, the Chinese people and armed forces will resolutely and thoroughly crush it at any cost,” it said.
Separatist activities on Taiwan had become the “biggest immediate threat” to China’s sovereignty and to peace and stability in the region, the paper said.
Pro-independence moves by Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian have made Beijing’s communist leaders increasingly nervous since he took office in 2000.
However, Chen’s ambitions suffered a blow this month when his Democratic Progressive Party failed to gain a majority in the legislature, curtailing his power to introduce a new constitution that China says would be a step towards independence.
The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but it is bound by law to help Taiwan defend itself. Washington is the island’s biggest arms supplier.
The policy paper criticized the United States for continuing to increase, both qualitatively and quantitatively, its arms sales to Taiwan, saying this sent the wrong signal.
“The U.S. action does not serve a stable situation across the Taiwan Straits,” it said.
China has been unmoved by outside criticism that Beijing’s refusal to renounce the use of force against Taiwan has ratcheted up tension across the narrow straits.
It was the “sacred responsibility” of China’s armed forces to prevent Taiwan independence forces from splitting the country, the policy paper said.
On Sunday, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, or parliament, praised the draft anti-secession law and unanimously suggested that it be submitted for deliberation at a session of parliament early next year.
Enacting the law was extremely necessary and very timely, Xinhua quoted the lawmakers as saying.