Beijing’s frequent threats breeding ‘resentment’ in Taiwan, island’s defence minister says

In a keynote speech, Yen Teh-fa describes continued pressure against separatism as ‘almost useless’, saying the island will not accept its tactics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 May, 2018, 6:19pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 May, 2018, 9:12pm

Continued pressure from mainland China against the threat of Taiwanese separatism has only resulted in “resentment” from the people of Taiwan, the self-ruled island’s defence minister Yen Teh-fa said on Saturday.

Yen also said Taiwanese would not accept Beijing’s frequent verbal and military threats, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

“This is almost useless,” the minister said, referring to Beijing’s tactics in a keynote speech at an international seminar at Tamkang University.

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Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province subject to eventual unification, by force if necessary. Cross-strait tensions have been rising since President Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party came to power two years ago. Beijing suspended official exchanges and talks with Taipei after Tsai refused to accept the “1992 consensus” – an understanding that there is only one China, but each side can have its own interpretation of what that China stands for.

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In a speech on the island’s national security strategy marking the second anniversary of Tsai’s inauguration, Yen said Taiwan would stick to its core values of liberty, democracy and openness, and that its army was entirely capable of defending the nation.

“These core values are very important,” he said, adding that Taiwan would get the support of countries in the region as long as it persisted with those values and emphasised its strategic importance.

Taiwan was facing serious challenges, he said, as mainland China’s strongman regime continued to apply pressure on the island using both soft and tough tactics. Volatile international relations surrounding the Korean peninsula had also affected cross-strait ties, he said.

But the island would overcome the challenges as long as it “heads the right direction”, Yen added.

Mainland China has carried out a series of military drills targeting the island, including a live-fire exercise in the Taiwan Strait last month, following pro-Taiwan gestures from the US as the trade row between Beijing and Washington escalates.

There have also been regular strategic bomber flights close the island in recent months, as some Taiwanese leaders took a more pro-independence stance.

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In the latest military exercise earlier this month, the PLA Air Force conducted encirclement drills around Taiwan with its new Su-35 fighter jets along with bombers, J-11 fighters and KJ-200 early warning aircraft. The air force indicated the military manoeuvres near the island would continue.

The mainland and Taiwan have been separated since 1949, when the Nationalists fled to the island after losing the civil war, but Beijing has never wavered in its belief that Taiwan remains an integral part of China and has refused to rule out the use of force to bring this about.

On Wednesday, An Fengshan, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, said supporters of Taiwan independence would be condemned and punished by history, and that independence efforts would only hit a dead end.

An’s remarks came after some mainland internet users also suggested publishing a list of Taiwanese separatists to be punished.