BEIJING: China will attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, one of the country's most senior generals said on Friday (May 29), a rhetorical escalation between China and the democratically ruled island Beijing claims as its own.
Speaking at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of the Anti-Secession Law, Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force.
The 2005 law gives the country the legal basis for military action against Taiwan if it secedes or seems about to.
"If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people's armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions," Li said.
"We do not promise to abandon the use of force, and reserve the option to take all necessary measures, to stabilise and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait," he added.
Li is one of China's few senior officers with combat experience, having taken part in China's ill-fated invasion of Vietnam in 1979.
On Friday, Li Zhanshu, the ruling Communist Party's third most senior leader and the head of China's parliament, said Beijing will never allow any force, in any way, to separate Taiwan from China.
China believes Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is a separatist bent on independence. Tsai says Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.
Speaking in Taipei last week at the inauguration of her second term, Tsai said Taiwan could not accept becoming part of China under its "one country, two systems" offer of autonomy, and rejected China's sovereignty claims.
China wants Taiwan to accept the "one country, two systems" model, which is supposed to guarantee a high degree of autonomy and which Beijing uses to run the former British colony of Hong Kong.
However, all major Taiwanese parties have rejected it.
China also approved a Bill for Hong Kong requiring it to quickly enact national security regulations, a move some see as contradicting the "one country, two systems" concept, and swiftly condemned by Taiwan.