China reaffirms threat of military force to annex Taiwan

BEIJING (AP) - China on Wednesday reiterated its threat to use military force to seize control of self-governing Taiwan amid looming Chinese military exercises that have pushed tensions between the sides to the highest level in years.
The statement by the Cabinet Office for Taiwan Affairs and its intelligence department followed nearly a week of missile fire and incursions by Chinese warships and Air Force planes into Taiwanese waters and airspace.
The actions have disrupted flights and shipping in a region vital to global supply chains, drawing strong condemnation from the US, Japan and others.
An English-language version of the Chinese statement said Beijing will "work with the utmost sincerity and make our best efforts to achieve peaceful reunification."
“But we do not renounce the use of force and reserve the possibility to take any necessary measures. This is to protect against outside interference and all separatist activities," the statement said.
“We will always be ready to respond by force or other necessary means to interference by external forces or radical actions by separatist elements. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the prospects of China's peaceful reunification and to advance this process," it said.
China says the threats were prompted by a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan last week, but Taiwan says such visits are routine and China has only used it as an excuse to step up its threats.
In an additional response to Pelosi's visit, China said it was breaking off dialogue on issues ranging from maritime security to climate change with the US, Taiwan's main military and political backer.
Taiwan's foreign minister warned Tuesday that the Chinese military drills reflect ambitions to control large parts of the western Pacific, while Taipei conducted its own drills to underscore its defense readiness.
Beijing's strategy would include controlling the East and South China Seas across the Taiwan Strait and imposing a blockade to prevent the US and its allies from assisting Taiwan in the event of an attack, Joseph Wu told a news conference in Taipei.
Beijing has extended ongoing drills without announcing when they will end.
Taiwan seceded from the mainland in 1949 amid civil war, and the island's 23 million residents overwhelmingly oppose political union with China, preferring to maintain close economic ties and the status quo of de facto independence.
China's maneuvers have pushed it closer to Taiwan's borders and may be trying to establish a new normal in which it could eventually control access to the island's ports and airspace.
The US, Taipei's main backer, has also expressed a willingness to confront China's threats. Washington maintains no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan out of deference to Beijing, but has a legal obligation to ensure the island can defend itself and to treat any threats against it as a cause of serious concern.
That leaves the question of whether Washington would send in military forces should China attack Taiwan. US President Joe Biden has repeatedly said the US has an obligation to do so - but staffers have been quick to dismiss those comments.
Geopolitical risks aside, a widespread crisis in the Taiwan Strait — a major global trade thoroughfare — could have a major impact on international supply chains at a time when the world is already grappling with disruptions and disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic and war Uncertainties is faced in Ukraine.
Taiwan, in particular, is a key supplier of computer chips to the global economy, including China's high-tech sectors.
In response to the exercises, Taiwan has put its armed forces on alert, but has so far refrained from taking any active countermeasures.
On Tuesday, the military conducted live fire artillery drills in Pingtung County on its southeast coast.

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