China Warns of War in Case of Move Toward Taiwan Independence

July 24, 2019 Updated: July 24, 2019

BEIJING—China’s defense ministry warned on July 24 that it was ready for war if there was a move toward Taiwan’s independence and denounced U.S. arms sales to the self-ruled island.

This month, the Pentagon said the U.S. State Department had approved sales of weapons requested by Taiwan, including tanks and Stinger missiles estimated to be worth $2.2 billion.

China responded by saying it would impose sanctions on U.S. firms involved in any deals.

Defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a news briefing on a defense white paper, the first in several years to outline the military’s strategic concerns, that China would make its greatest effort for reunification with Taiwan.

“However, we must firmly point out that seeking Taiwan independence is a dead end,” Wu said.

“If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China’s military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity,” he said.

The United States is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China deems a wayward province. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

The United States has no formal ties with democratic Taiwan, but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself.

China’s defense spending would maintain moderate and steady growth, the Chinese ministry said.

“There is still a wide gap between China’s defense expenditure and the requirements for safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests,” it said.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said later in a statement that Beijing’s “provocative behavior … seriously violated the peace principle in international laws and relations, challenging regional safety and order.”

“We urge Beijing authorities to renounce irrational, malicious acts such as the use of force, and to improve cross-strait relations and handle issues including Hong Kong rationally, so that it can be a responsible regional member,” it said.

By Michael Martina

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