Thursday, February 22, 2024

China reaffirms military threat against Taiwan weeks before presidential election

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Weeks before presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan, China reiterated its threat to annex by military force the autonomous democratic islands it claims as its territory.

Defense Ministry spokesperson Col. Wu Qian told reporters at a monthly briefing Thursday that the Chinese military “will continue to take all necessary measures to firmly protect our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Taiwan’s 23 million people overwhelmingly support maintaining the island’s de facto independent status, with the Jan. 13 poll showing concerns primarily about housing prices, health care, employment and education. It will be influenced by. China continues to send warships and fighter jets near the island as an intimidation tactic, even though Taiwan’s military announced it was raising its alert level ahead of the vote.

While ruling party candidate William Lai maintains a lead in most polls, main opposition Kuomintang candidate Hou Youyi is trying to appeal to voters concerned about a military conflict with China that could involve the United States and lead. . There will be massive disruption to the global economy.

Hou’s campaign documents distributed in Taipei on Thursday expressed opposition to Taiwanese independence and agreement with Beijing’s view that Taiwan is part of China.

Long a melting pot of Asian and European cultures, Taiwan was a Japanese colony for 50 years before being handed over to Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalist government in 1945. The Kuomintang, also known as the Kuomintang, moved to the island in 1949 after Mao Zedong’s Communist Party won a brutal conflict in mainland China in which millions of people were killed.

At a press conference on Thursday, Mr. Wu repeatedly accused the United States of deliberately encouraging Taiwan to escalate tensions with China. Although Beijing has not provided evidence, the claims contradict China’s stance that it supports authoritarian rule, opposes the long-dominant Western liberal order, and calls itself an unofficial ally of Russia. are doing.

“Any attempt to use Taiwan to contain China is doomed to failure. … The pursuit of independence through military force is a dead end,” Wu said.

Taiwan is countering China’s military expansion with a build-up of its navy, air force, and ground forces, all of which support the possibility of swift intervention by the United States and its allies across the Asia-Pacific.

China maintains the world’s largest standing army of more than 2 million volunteers, the largest navy and the second-highest annual defense budget after the United States.

However, the post of defense minister has remained vacant since his predecessor, Lee Sang-bok, disappeared in August and was officially dismissed in October, but there is no word on the cause or current situation. It has not been done. Mr. Li’s mysterious dismissal and that of former Foreign Minister Qin Gang cast doubt on the support within the government for Communist Party leader and head of state Xi Jinping, who has effectively become leader for life and has sought to eliminate everyone. Political enemy.

Although the post of defense minister remains vacant, Mr. Xi on Monday appointed two newly promoted generals to major military commands. Wang Wenquan will serve as political commissar for the Southern Theater Command, which oversees China’s operations in the hotly contested South China Sea. As China seeks to establish itself as the world’s maritime power to protect its trade interests, strengthen its control over islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea, and expand its global interests to weaken the power of the United States, Hu Zhongming will be appointed as Navy Commander. .

Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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