Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe delivers a speech at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing on Monday. Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee
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China's defense minister says resolving 'Taiwan question' is greatest national interest

34 Comments
By Ben Blanchard

China's defense minister, Wei Fenghe, said on Monday that resolving the "Taiwan question" is his country's "greatest national interest", and that no force could prevent China's "reunification".

Separatist activities are doomed to failure, Wei said at the opening of the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, which China styles as its answer to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore.

Tensions between China and Taiwan have ratcheted up ahead of the self-ruled island's presidential election in January. Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial issue.

"China is the only major country in the world that is yet to be completely reunified," Wei said.

"Resolving the Taiwan question so as to realize China's full reunification is the irresistible trend of the times, China's greatest national interest, the righteous path to follow and the longing of all Chinese people."

Proudly democratic Taiwan has lambasted China for its authoritarian rule and for being a threat to regional peace, while China has heaped pressure on Taiwan, whittling away at its few remaining diplomatic allies.

China regards Taiwan as its sacred territory, to be brought under Beijing's rule, by force if needed, a message President Xi Jinping reiterated at the start of this year.

China translates the word "tong yi" as "reunification", but it can also be translated as "unification", a term in English preferred by supporters of Taiwan independence who point out that Beijing's Communist government has never ruled Taiwan and so it cannot be "reunified".

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a civil war with the Communists. The People's Republic of China has never governed Taiwan, whose people have shown little interest in being ruled by autocratic Beijing.

China has also been angered by U.S. support for Taiwan, including arms sales. Washington has no formal ties with Taipei, but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

"No one and no force can ever stop China's full reunification. We are committed to promoting the peaceful development of cross-Taiwan strait relations and the peaceful reunification of the country," Wei said.

"However we will never allow separatists for Taiwan independence to have their way, nor allow interference by any external forces. Advancing China's reunification is a just cause, while separatist activities are doomed to failure."

FRICTION WITH THE U.S.

The U.S. and China have clashed across multiple fronts in recent years, not only because of the bitter trade war but also because of efforts by Washington to check what it perceives as growing capabilities and aggressiveness of Beijing's armed forces in the Asia-Pacific region.

China asserts territorial claims in almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, as do smaller neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. But those countries are unable to keep pace with China's military spending, which at nearly $170 billion this year is second only to that of the U.S.

Washington has spoken out against what it calls China's"coercion" of Southeast Asian neighbors, further adding to tensions.

Wei on Monday reiterated that Beijing is a "peace-loving nation" that would never strike first and does not pose a threat to the rest of the world.

"The China-U.S. military relationship is generally stable but we are confronted with many difficulties and challenges," he said. "Cooperation between the two militaries on strategic communication, mutual trust and risk control should be further strengthened."

The U.S. has also angered China by repeatedly conducting what it calls "freedom of navigation" operations by ships close to islands China occupies in the South China Sea.

"The South China Sea islands and Diaoyu islands are inalienable parts of China's territory. We will not allow even an inch of territory that our ancestors have left to us to be taken away," Wei said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments
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It's all about China's land grab.

Taiwan is a sovereign nation - whose autonomy and boundaries China respect.

.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

The defense minister can relax as the "Taiwan Question" has already been resolved. The people of Taiwan do not want to be a part of the Communist led mainland. The Taiwanese people much prefer independence. Problem solved.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

More sabre-rattling by China.With their economic clout permeating sports,business and basically all aspects of life, they're flexing with gay abandon. But no-one has any love for them though,not that they'd care.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Beijing's Communist government has never ruled Taiwan and so it cannot be "reunified".

Indeed. Historically, it's the other way round.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Their defence minister should relax and take a deep breath,how about release Tibet and northern Mongol before claim Taiwan?

And anyway the people of Taiwan made their decisions.

According to his twisted thinking then a country like Switzerland should not exist.

Because it's territories should be claimed back to Germany/Austria,France and Italy.

Or Belgium be absorbed by France and The Netherlands.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Everyone other than China considers that question pretty much resolved...

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Leave this problem to Taiwan & China. Pls do not get involve esp if U are not of Asian nationality.

-20 ( +1 / -21 )

IMO I thought that question like Hong Kong is resolved. The people have spoken and they don't want to be a part of China. China can't even keep what is written i.e. with Hong Kong. Please this is just a warning of the land grub by force coming to Taiwan and the rest of the Asian territories including the Japan administered islands that Japan keeps failing to put its own self defense forces or allies military and declare it fully as Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Beijing's Communist government has never ruled Taiwan and so it cannot be "reunified".

Indeed. Historically, it's the other way round.

Indeed, if reunification does occur, it is the government in Taiwan that should retake control of mainland China...

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@Tara - At what point should people get involved? If China wants to take all Asian countries (this would include Japan) should the rest of the world just sit and watch?

At what point should the world stop China from annexing countries, international waters, etc.?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

China is a lovely country. It is wonderful that there is so much diversity there. Taiwan could be useful for China, giving Chinese people, proud of their history, an alternative place to live. One people, one country, and two, or three, or even four systems of government sounds like an ideal situation. Full of admiration!

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Leave this problem to Taiwan & China. Pls do not get involve esp if U are not of Asian nationality.

Why is it okay for Asians that aren't Chinese to get involved if it isn't okay for all non-Chinese to get involved?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

China is a lovely country. It is wonderful that there is so much diversity there. Taiwan could be useful for China, giving Chinese people, proud of their history, an alternative place to live. One people, one country, and two, or three, or even four systems of government sounds like an ideal situation. Full of admiration

Now I know you don’t believe a word of what you said, right?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

bass4funk, sometimes you do make me smile! :8)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Beat the war drums! Just remember that this is the regime that you are supporting buy buying products from Apple, Tesla, etc etc made by slave labour, while complaining that orange man is bad trying to end Chinas cheating of the WTO.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Beat the war drums! Just remember that this is the regime that you are supporting buy buying products from Apple, Tesla, etc etc made by slave labour, while complaining that orange man is bad trying to end Chinas cheating of the WTO.

Also remember that the world followed America's lead in moving factories to china for the additional profits in the first place. Thanks America for your forward looking leadership and your creation of a monster.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Taiwan is a sovereign nation

Not according to the communists in Beijing.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Taiwan's rugged terrain makes it a difficult place to occupy. During the Meiji Period it took the Japanese army 10 years to defeat Taiwan aborigines armed with spears and bows and arrows. China is almost certainly aware of this.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

They can (re)unite quite easily - just as soon as the People's Republic of China becomes democratic like Taiwan. Then Taiwan would have no qualms

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Taiwan's rugged terrain makes it a difficult place to occupy.

As if that would thwart China somehow.

During the Meiji Period it took the Japanese army 10 years to defeat Taiwan aborigines armed with spears and bows and arrows. China is almost certainly aware of this.

I hate to say this, but China had a 100 years to grow and modify its weaponry arsenal. Remember 100 years ago, China didn’t have nukes either.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I thought the civil war between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and People's Republic of China is still not finished yet. No peace treaty has been signed. Taiwan however is protected by the US Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019,.......

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"China is the only major country in the world that is yet to be completely reunified."

Cough - korea - cough

4 ( +4 / -0 )

resolving the "Taiwan question" is his country's "greatest national interest",

his country's "greatest national obsession".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The US failed in its foreign policy and fight to stop the spread of Communism in China, and thereby Korea and Vietnam despite $2 billion dollars in aid given to the Nationalists.

Then the US abandons Taiwan when Nixon made the switch to recognize the Communists as China, neglects to check China while fighting a decade war with Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that never existed, invests in the communists and allows the “bully” to take its IP lunch. It’s time to stop allowing yourself be bullied. Who created this monster?

There is freedom of speech and the right to own guns but the US is not free from the corporate interests that dictate its foreign policy.

I thought the civil war between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and People's Republic of China is still not finished yet. No peace treaty has been signed. Taiwan however is protected by the US Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019,.......

No, the US ended this two China Civil War when it stopped recognizing Taiwan as China The official policy of the US is that there is only one China (the bad one) and so Taiwan is left up to China to deal with as an internal issue. Of course the US could recognize Taiwan as an independent country but fat chance of that happening with US corporate interests deeply invested in China and with the CCP.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

his country's "greatest national obsession".

That is pretty accurate. I think the most important thing for the Chinese is not to lose its perceived territory even at the cost of everything.

Cough - korea - cough

I guess they don’t see Korea as a major country.

Taiwan is a sovereign nation

Not according to the communists in Beijing.

and the capitalists in Washington.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

kissinger nixon met mao in 1972 and the deal was made to make China the produces and America the consumer. Everyone knows eventually the consumer has to dance for the producer. This give the US the chance to act the victim or protector against Chinese agressino which was totally obvious and planed in 72. Its a chess game and were come upto to check mate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Taiwan can just tell China that, "Taiwan and China were one country is a historical document and no longer needed to be honored."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just say NO to communism.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Actually although what I wrote was slightly tongue-in-cheek, my impressions of China were seriously good. I do believe that China can rise above this and see the bigger picture, that it is warmth from the heart that will bring China and the island and people of Taiwan closer together. Also I do not believe there is any pressure of time on this. Time is on everyone’s side.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Given recent events between Turkey and Syria, one would wonder whether the Taiwanese are becoming wary of relying upon American support?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

the righteous path to follow and the longing of all Chinese people."

Except, you know, for the ones in Taiwan...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What is happening in Hong Kong now means the Republic of China will never surrender to the Peoples Republic of China. The ROC needs nukes to fend off attack.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just sell two nuclear missiles to Taiwan. It will change his voice.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Go Taiwan, we stand with you!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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