Tensions between Taiwan and China have soared in recent weeks. White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien yesterday warned Taiwan should prepare to deter a Chinese invasion. It came after Beijing accused the US of being “provocative” as it sailed its USS Barry through the sea between China and Taiwan.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) quickly warned the US to double back or face potential retaliation.
Mr O’Brien has since said: “I think Taiwan needs to start looking at some asymmetric and anti-access area denial strategies and so on and really fortify itself in a manner that would deter the Chinese from any sort of amphibious invasion or even a grey zone operation against them.”
Footage released by Beijing only added to the tensions, allegedly showing Chinese soldiers “seizing an island” during a live-fire drill.
The move was widely regarded as having been intended to threaten Taiwan of things to come.
Taiwan: The country has consistently refused China’s wishes to unite the island with the mainland
Tsai Ing-wen: Taiwan’s President won a second term earlier this year after guaranteeing independence
Shortly before, Beijing aired a purported confession from a Taiwanese businessman who is being held captive by Chinese authorities on spying charges.
China considers Taiwan as part of its own territory.
One of Xi Jinping‘s – China’s President – main goals is to unify the two by 2049.
However, Taiwan has consistently refused China its wish, continuing to govern itself as an independent state also known as the Republic of China.
Xi Jinping: China’s President has said he intends to unite the two countries by 2049
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s President, earlier this year set out her intentions of doing whatever it took to prevent China from invading the island.
It came during her inauguration for her second term as President – itself interpreted as a sign that the people of Taiwan wish to remain independent.
Ms Tsai said she could not accept China’s proposal for a “One Country, Two Systems” framework, calling for both countries to co-exist.
She said: “Both sides have a duty to find a way to coexist over the long term and prevent the intensification of antagonism and differences.
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“Here, I want to reiterate the words ‘peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue’.
“We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.
“We stand fast by this principle.”
The One Country, Two Systems framework was used in Hong Kong and was meant to last until 2047.
Taiwan invasion: Prospective Chinese invasion points of the island
Earlier this year, however, China moved to override the legalities of the system, imposing its rule over Hong Kong prematurely.
Many fear Beijing may attempt a similar move with Taiwan.
Although others are sceptical of drawing comparisons.
Sean King, senior vice president at Park Strategies and business advisor to Asia, told Express.co.uk he “didn’t see Taiwan becoming the next Hong Kong” earlier this year.
Taiwan independence: Thousands of Taiwanese attend a rally to maintain the country’s independence
Meanwhile, speaking at Taiwan’s National Day celebrations last weekend, Ms Tsai took note of recent comments from Mr Xi to the UN General Assembly that China would never seek hegemony, expansion or to establish a sphere of influence.
She said: “As countries in the region and around the world are now concerned about China’s expanding hegemony, we hope this is the beginning of genuine change.”