China hardens Taiwan stance ahead of elections, says no force can prevent reunification

Resolving the Taiwan question so as to realise China's full reunification is the of great national importance to China, says defence minister Wei Fenghe.

A double rainbow is seen behind Taiwanese flag during the National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2017. Reuters

China upped the ante on the Taiwan issue on Monday, saying the island's reunification with the mainland is a primary need and that China is the only large nation in the world that is yet to be completely reunified. Echoing similar sentiments expressed from Beijing from time time, China's defence minister Wei Fenghe said the "Taiwan question" is Beijing's "greatest national interest."

"Resolving the Taiwan question so as to realise China's full reunification is the irresistible trend of the times, China's greatest national interest, the righteous path to follow and the longing of all Chinese people," Wei said.

"China is the only major country in the world that is yet to be completely reunified," Wei added, according to Reuters.

China considers self-ruling Taiwan as a renegade province and hasn't stood down on the possibility of using force to annex the island. The power balance tilted in Beijing's favour back in the early 1970s when the United States recognized the People's Republic of China and started diplomatic relations with Beijing.

China's aggressive stance on Taiwan gains importance in the backdrop of the Taiwan presidential elections that are scheduled to take place in January. Tsai Ing-wen, the current president, is seeking a second four-year term and is among the favourites to win the election. China has been hostile towards Tsai Ing-wen, who is a pro-independence leader.

Taiwan president-elect Tsai Ing-wen
Democratic Progessive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen chants slogans during a rally outside the Presidential Office in Taipei August 30, 2008 Reuters

Taking on the anti-China Tsai is populist leader Han Kuo-yu, who is seen as more pro-China. Han vouches for more friendly and stable relations with China. Han is the outright favourite in the Chinese eye as he supports the controversial "1992 Consensus," under which the two sides share more cordial ties. The Tsai camp has been campaigning on the national pride, saying the 2020 elections will be a fight between those who support independence and those calling for reunification.

China, which is locked in a bitter trade war with the US, is angry with Washington for its support for Taiwan. Though the US has no formal ties with Taipei, it has pledged its commitment to support the island if it comes under siege. China has voiced its strong resentment over the US support of Tsai in recent years.

"No one and no force can ever stop China's full reunification. We are committed to promoting the peaceful development of cross-Taiwan strait relations and the peaceful reunification of the country," Wei said.