After a record number of Chinese intrusions into the Taiwanese Air Identification Zone, Chinese President Xi Jinping escalated the sabre-rattling further, stating the reunification with Taiwan "must be fulfilled." China's air force mounted four straight days of incursions into Taiwan's air defense zone from October 1, involving close to 150 aircraft, sending alarm bells ringing among Western governments.
While those missions have since ended, Taipei pledged to defend its freedom and that only Taiwan's people can decide their future. Speaking at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Xi said the Chinese people have a "glorious tradition" of opposing separatism. "Taiwan separatism is the biggest obstacle to achieving the reunification of the motherland and the most serious hidden danger to national rejuvenation," he said.
While Xi did not explicitly mention the use of military force to achieve the goal of reunification, Chinese state media recently published a three-step invasion plan of the democratic nation. The US, a staunch Taiwanese ally, maintained its mutual defense pact with the Pacific island nation. They replaced it with a less-intensive agreement called the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, which remains in effect today.
China also demanded the US cut military ties and cease training operations with the Taiwanese military. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned, "China will take all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity" when asked Friday about the budding situation. Zhao added the US should recognize the "high sensitivity" of the issue and end military contact with Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party claims Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory. Mainland officials have threatened to take control of the island by force if Taiwan's government declares official independence. Taiwan broke away from China in 1949, but the Chinese totalitarian government considers the island a "renegade state." A formal declaration of Taiwanese independence could trigger the mainland's full-scale military takeover.