China softens Taiwan rhetoric as U.S. and Canadian warships sail through strait
BEIJING – China is willing to make every effort to achieve a peaceful “reunification” with Taiwan, a Chinese government spokesman said Wednesday, after weeks of military maneuvers and war games by Beijing near the self-ruled island.
The comments came a day after US and Canadian warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on their second joint transit in less than a year.
Ma Xiaoguang, spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, told a news conference ahead of next month’s Communist Party congress in Beijing that China is willing to make maximum efforts to achieve peaceful “reconciliation” with the island’s democracy. , which Beijing claims as its territory.
China has proposed a “one country, two systems” model for Taiwan, under which the former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Ma said Taiwan may have a “social system different from the mainland” that ensures its way of life is respected, including religious freedom, but this is “under the precondition of ensuring national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
All mainstream Taiwanese political parties have rejected that proposal and opinion polls show it has almost no public support, especially after Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 when the city has been rocked by sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests. protest
China has never abandoned the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, and in 2005 passed a law giving the country the legal basis for military action against Taiwan if it secedes or appears to be secessionist.
Taiwan’s government says the island was never ruled by the People’s Republic of China, so its claim to sovereignty is void.
China has been conducting drills near Taiwan since early last month, including firing missiles into waters near the island, after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.
A US Navy warship and a Canadian frigate made a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, the militaries of both countries said. This is the second transit by a US Navy ship in a month and the second joint transit by the US and Canada since October 2021.
“This type of cooperation represents the centerpiece of our vision for a secure and prosperous region,” the US Navy said in a statement.
The Earle Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Higgins and the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate transited through a corridor in the Vancouver Strait that is outside a coastal state’s territorial sea, it added.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the move.
“However, this operation is, more than that, a strong demonstration of democratic allies’ strong opposition to China’s expansionist efforts in the Taiwan Strait,” it said.
China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said its forces had observed the ships and “alerted them.”
“Theater forces are always on high alert, resolutely counter all threats and provocations and resolutely protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said in a statement, using its usual phrase for such responses.
The narrow Taiwan Strait has been a frequent source of military tension since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949, losing a civil war with the Communists, who founded the People’s Republic of China.