Beijing says the self-governing island is part of China and has increasingly asserted its claim.
Beijing says it is ready to make best efforts to seek peaceful “reunification” with self-governing Taiwan after conducting major military maneuvers around the island in recent weeks.
As China claims Taiwan as its territory, the island’s democratically elected government rejects the claims, saying it is up to the island’s 23 million residents to decide their future.
Beijing has grown more assertive about Taiwan in recent years, and sea and air drills that have included missile launches over the island began last month following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei. Defying a series of strong threats to travel to the island, Pelosi became the highest profile US official he has visited in 25 years and prompted other US and European politicians to follow his example.
At a press conference evaluating the past 10 years of cross-strait relations, Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for China’s Bureau of Taiwan Affairs, said China is willing to make the best efforts to achieve peaceful “reunification,” but that it is also “unshakeable”. in its commitment to protecting its territory.
“The motherland must be reunited and will inevitably be reunited,” Ma said.
Since Tsai Ing-wen was first elected president in 2016, Beijing has tightened its claim on Taiwan. She has sought to diplomatically isolate Taipei and has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the island.
It has also increasingly asserted jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait, the 180 km (110 miles) wide channel separating China from the island of Taiwan, with Chinese warships testing the unofficial maritime boundary.
The US, which maintains diplomatic ties with Beijing but is committed to providing Taiwan with the means to self-defense, has denied claims of “free navigation” passages through the straits.
On Wednesday, the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet announced that the destroyer USS Higgins, in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Navy’s frigate HMCS Vancouver, conducted a “routine transit across the Taiwan Strait … in accordance with international law” on September 20 (local time). .
“The ship passed through a corridor in the strait that lies beyond the territorial sea of a coastal state,” it said.
China said it tracked the two ships through the canal.
“The troops are always on high alert, resolutely resisting all threats and provocations, and resolutely defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Task Force, told state broadcaster CCTV.
The latest joint passage came a day after President Joe Biden again declared that US troops would come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, despite long-standing official policies of “strategic ambiguity.”
Following Biden’s comments, the White House again said there was no change in US policy towards Taiwan.
China has suggested Taiwan could be governed under the “one country, two systems” framework introduced in Hong Kong after the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Ma said Taiwan can have a “social system different from the mainland” that ensures their way of life is respected, including freedom of religion, but that is “provided that national sovereignty, security and development interests are guaranteed.”
All mainstream Taiwanese political parties have opposed the proposal, and it has almost no public support, according to opinion polls, especially after Beijing’s 2020 introduction of the National Security Law in Hong Kong.
Critics say the law has “decimated” Hong Kong’s freedoms, with thousands arrested, pro-democracy politicians ousted from office or in exile, shut down civil society groups and pressured media freedom.
Beijing, which is being confirmed by Hong Kong authorities, says the law has restored stability after massive protests in 2019.