The People’s Liberation Army held live-fire military drills on Wednesday in the Taiwan Straits sending a clear political message to both the island and the world: The Chinese mainland will never allow Taiwan to secede from the motherland.
Those who claim that the drills had been hyped up by Beijing and were just “cheap verbal intimidation” and “sabre rattling” fail to appreciate their true portent, that if push comes to shove, China will act to prevent its territory being scraped away.
And the suggestion the drills were aimed at creating unease among Taiwan compatriots falls wide off the mark. Instead, the drills served to reassure them that the Chinese mainland will do whatever it can to protect them from being led astray. For the fault lies not with those who might be taken in by such nonsense but with those whose words seek to deceive them.
To the rest of the world, and in particular those countries which are trying to interfere in China’s internal affairs by using the island as a pawn in their own games, these drills were a signal that there is no room for bargaining when it comes to China’s territorial integrity.
The Taiwan Travel Act US President Donald Trump signed in March and the recent US approval of the sale of military submarine technology to the island have only served to increase tensions across the Straits.
Whatever the United States hopes to gain by encouraging the secessionists in their ultimately futile antics, it won’t do anything to sap China’s resolve to defend its territorial integrity. Instead, in doing so, it risks letting the situation get out of hand.
For, abetted by the US, the secessionists are becoming ever more daring in their dangerous pursuits. This bodes ill not only for cross-Straits relations but also for the region, which has been hopeful that the engagement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would see the cloud of potential conflict fade.
The Chinese mainland is sincere in doing whatever it can to seek the peaceful reunification of the island with the motherland.
However, it would be wrong for anyone dreaming of the island’s secession to consider efforts in this regard as a demonstration of weakness or indetermination. Although it remains the last resort, the PLA will act if forced to do so.