Published: 09:37, June 5, 2023 | Updated: 11:20, June 5, 2023
Li Shangfu: China's reunification is 'overriding historical trend'
By Jiang Chenglong

This undated photo shows the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The root causes of tensions across the Taiwan Strait lie with some external forces and "Taiwan independence" separatist forces, both of which are exploiting each other, State Councilor and Defense Minister Li Shangfu said on Sunday, as he warned that the Chinese military will not hesitate if anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China.

"Who is undermining stability across the Taiwan Strait? The answer is known to all," Li said at a plenary session of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, attended by delegations from more than 40 countries.

People around the world can see clearly that the root causes of tensions across the Strait are the island's Democratic Progressive Party authorities soliciting foreign support for "independence", and some foreign forces' attempting to use Taiwan to contain China and interfering in China's internal affairs, Li said.

Senior Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesman for the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command, in a statement criticized the two countries for "deliberately stirring up trouble and risks" in the Taiwan Strait, maliciously undermining regional peace and stability, and sending wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces

He said that DPP authorities deny the 1992 Consensus and have continuously pushed for incremental "Taiwan independence", adding that they have tried hard to erase the Chinese identity of Taiwan, and manipulated and hijacked public opinion.

Meanwhile, "some big power "has repeatedly sold arms to Taiwan, provided military training assistance and upgraded official exchanges, said the defense chief, noting that such moves greatly violate its own promises.

On Saturday, United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in his speech at the forum that the US opposes unilateral changes to the status quo of the Taiwan Strait.

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On the same day, the US destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Montreal passed through the Taiwan Strait. They were followed and monitored by the Chinese military, which responded in accordance with the law and regulations, according to a military spokesman.

Senior Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesman for the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command, in a statement criticized the two countries for "deliberately stirring up trouble and risks" in the Taiwan Strait, maliciously undermining regional peace and stability, and sending wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces.

Defense Minister Li said in his speech delivered to the forum that the Taiwan question is the "core of China's core interests", and the country's reunification is an overriding historical trend and an unstoppable course.

Any act to obscure or hollow out the one-China principle is "both absurd and dangerous", Li said, stressing that over 180 countries have established diplomatic ties with China with the political commitment of abiding by the one-China principle, which has become a universally recognized basic norm governing international relations.

"The more rampant the separatist activities for 'Taiwan independence' are, the more resolute our countermeasures will be. All foreign interference is doomed to end up in failure," the defense minister said.

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Li said that China will strive for peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and the greatest efforts, but will make no promise to renounce the use of force.

"If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will not hesitate for a second," he said, underlining that the PLA will fear no opponents and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity regardless of the cost.

Sino-US ties

Li also elaborated on China's attitude toward Sino-US relations, which he said has a bearing on global strategic stability.

"A severe conflict or confrontation between China and the US will be an unbearable disaster for the world," he said.

The minister pointed to the "right way" for China and the US to get along by following the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.

A day earlier, US Defense Secretary Austin said in his speech to the forum that he was deeply concerned by the lack of military communication with China.

State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu delivers a speech on Sunday at the 20th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. (PHOTO / AP)

Li said that China has been seeking to develop a new type of major-country relationship with the US, emphasizing that the US needs to act with sincerity, match its words with deeds and take concrete action to stabilize China-US relations and prevent them from deteriorating.

Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng, deputy chief of the Central Military Commission's Joint Staff Department, said that a series of wrong words and deeds by the US had failed to create the conditions and atmosphere for communication and exchanges between the two militaries.

ALSO READ: Chinese general hits out at US defense secretary over Taiwan

"Communication should be sound and based on mutual respect," Jing said. It is "unjustifiable" for the US to call for communication and crisis management while stirring up provocations, flexing its muscles and undermining China's interests and concerns, he added.

Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, a researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said the US' recent claims and actions display the "might is right" logic of the country, which regards China as its main strategic competitor.

"The communication and dialogue that the US is calling for with China are actually based on a big picture that the US has formed a series of security alliances, such as AUKUS and Quad, with its allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region to contain China," he said.

From this perspective, the US has no regard for China's core interests and major concerns, Zhao said.

Li Yan, executive director of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations' Institute of World Political Studies, said that the US has shown no respect for China, because it calls for dialogue while its sanctions imposed on China's defense minister remain.