Taiwan warns of possible attack if China's slowdown 'becomes serious'





By Yimou Lee and Fabian Hamacher

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Beijing could resort to military conflict with self-ruled Taiwan to divert domestic pressure if a slowdown in the world's second largest economy amid trade war threatens the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, the island's foreign minister has said.

As Taiwan's presidential elections approach in January, China has stepped up a campaign to "reunify" with what it considers a wayward province, wooing away the island's few diplomatic allies and flying regular bomber patrols around it.

In an interview with Reuters, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu drew attention to China's slowing economy amid its bitter trade war with the United States.

"If the internal stability is a very serious issue, or economic slowdown has become a very serious issue for the top leaders to deal with, that is the occasion that we need to be very careful," Wu said on Wednesday.

"We need to prepare ourselves for the worst situation to come...military conflict."

China's economy, though still growing, is expected to slow to a near 30-year low this year, underscoring a stiff challenge for Beijing in stepping up stimulus to keep up growth that has been fundamental to the Communist Party's political legitimacy.

Wu said the economic situation in China was "OK" at the moment, but urged other countries to watch for what he saw as problems there, such as unemployment and popular discontent.

"Perhaps Xi Jinping himself is called into question of his legitimacy, by not being able to keep the Chinese economy growing," Wu said, referring to China's president.

"This is a factor that might cause the Chinese leaders to decide to take an external action to divert domestic attention."

China's growing military aggression in the region has become a "very serious" source of tension, Wu said, affecting many countries, but added that Taiwan was trying whatever it could to ensure peace across the Strait.

"We certainly hope that Taiwan and China could live peacefully together, but we also see there are problems caused by China, and we will try to deal with it."

Taiwan has lost seven diplomatic allies to China since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. Beijing suspects Tsai of pushing for the island's formal independence, which Xi has warned would lead to a "grave disaster".

Tsai has repeatedly said she will not change the status quo.


'MOST DIFFICULT JOB'

Months-long anti-government protests in Hong Kong have provided a lesson for Taiwan, said Wu, who has been a vocal supporter of democracy in the Asian financial hub.

The protests in the former British colony have posed the biggest populist challenge to Xi since he came to power in 2012.

"People here understand that there's something wrong (with)the way the 'one country, two systems' model is run in Hong Kong...Taiwan people don't like to be in the same situation," Wu said.

Beijing has repeatedly proposed to rule Taiwan under a "one country, two systems" formula similar to that prevailing in Hong Kong, guaranteeing certain freedoms, but the island has shown no interest in being run by autocratic China.

Wu vowed to help Hong Kong people "striving for freedom and democracy", promising that, if needed, Taiwan would "provide some assistance to them on an individual basis".

He did not elaborate, except for saying Taiwan would not intervene in the protests.

Wu, who described his post as "the most difficult ministerial job in the world," has seen five countries switch diplomatic ties to China, whose complaints also drove many global firms to alter their descriptions of Taiwan.

"Acknowledging that Taiwan is part of China in exchange for some diplomatic space - I believe such a condition is unacceptable," Wu said. "Taiwan's diplomacy shouldn't be outsourced to China."

China could snatch more of Taiwan's remaining 15 diplomatic allies, Wu added, in a bid to influence the elections, at which Tsai is seeking re-election.

"We are working closely with the United States and other like-minded countries to make sure the switch of diplomatic relations doesn't happen again."

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help defend it.


(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Fabian Hamacher; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

COMMENTS

More Related News

China imposes
China imposes 'reciprocal' restrictions on US diplomats

China on Friday said it had taken "reciprocal" measures against US diplomats in the country, ordering them to notify the foreign ministry before meeting with local officials. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had notified the US embassy of the new measures on Wednesday, which she said were a "countermeasure" to Washington's decision in October to restrict Chinese diplomats. In October, the US ordered Chinese diplomats to notify the State Department in advance of any official meetings with US diplomats, local or municipal officials, and before any visits to colleges or research institutions.

Six months of sacrifice: Hong Kong
Six months of sacrifice: Hong Kong's protesters take stock

With Beijing taking a hard line, it has since broadened into a call to halt authoritarian China's attempts to erode freedoms in the city. Raymond Yeung, a liberal studies teacher at the elite Diocesan Girls' School, joined the movement early and was there on June 12 when a massive protest descended into violence. Protesters broke into the forecourt of the city's legislative building, throwing objects including metal bars at police.

No More North Korea: Could America Have Won The Korean War With Nuclear Weapons?
No More North Korea: Could America Have Won The Korean War With Nuclear Weapons?

We're lucky that we did not have to find out.

NATO is finally talking about China, and there are 3 big problems it has to address
NATO is finally talking about China, and there are 3 big problems it has to address

Many of NATO's longstanding problems were under discussion at its leaders summit this week, but the agenda included a relatively new challenge: China.

U.S., China Move Closer to Trade Deal Despite Harsh Rhetoric
U.S., China Move Closer to Trade Deal Despite Harsh Rhetoric

(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. The U.S. and China are moving closer to agreeing on the amount of tariffs that would be rolled back in a phase-one trade deal despite tensions over Hong Kong and Xinjiang, people familiar

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

  • Morgan MabelPler
    (2019-11-08 12:56:44Z)

    http://trustonlinepharmacies.com - world pharmacy canada canadie pharmacy

    REPLY

Top News: Asia