China ratcheted up its rhetoric towards Taiwan on Thursday, bluntly warning the island that “independence means war” after increased Chinese military activity was recorded near Taiwan over the weekend.
“We warn Taiwan independence elements: those who play with fire will be burned. Taiwan independence means war,” warned Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Wu Qian.
China sent a total of 28 Chinese fighter jets and bombers into the Taiwan Strait and the island’s southwestern air defense identification zone over the weekend, just days after President Biden’s inauguration. The U.S. responded swiftly with a warning to China to back down from its intimidation tactics.
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives,” the State Department said Saturday.
The State Department reaffirmed that the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is “rock-solid” and said Washington is concerned about China’s “pattern” of intimidation towards its neighbors, including Taiwan.
Qian called Taiwan an “inalienable part of China’s territory” and said the the ramped up military activity near the island is a “solemn response to external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces.”
China is taking “necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security,” Qian said.
Taiwan’s defense ministry has not commented on China’s warning.
The Chinese began flying military planes through the Taiwan Strait on a regular basis in March, 2019, but the presence near Taiwan over the weekend was the largest in several years.