General Li Zuocheng, the PLA’s chief of the Joint Staff Department, made the remarks during a meeting with Admiral John Richardson, the US chief of naval operations, in Beijing.
Richardson is in China on a three-day visit that also includes a stop in the eastern city of Nanjing, headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command.
Taiwan’s presidential office building in Taipei. Chinese military chief Li Zuocheng said the “Taiwan issue is a matter of China’s internal affairs”. Photo: EPA-EFE
The two military leaders also had a “deep exchange” of views over Taiwan and the South China Sea, according to a statement released by the Chinese defence ministry.
Li warned that China would defend its sovereignty at all costs.
“The Taiwan issue is a matter of China’s internal affairs which concerns China’s core interests and the feelings of the Chinese people across the Taiwan Strait, and China will not allow any outside interference,” Li said, according to the statement.
“If anyone wants to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will safeguard the national unity at all costs so as to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
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But Li also said military ties were a key component of China-US relations, and called on both sides to improve communication.
“The ups and downs experienced during the 40 years since the establishment of Sino-US ties have shown that the mutual interests between China and the US far outweigh the differences, and that cooperation is the best choice for both sides,” said Li, who is also a member of the Central Military Commission, the military’s ruling body.
“The two militaries should respect each other, strengthen mutual trust and communication, properly manage risks, and work to make military exchanges a stabiliser of the Sino-US relationship,” he said.
Under US President Donald Trump, Washington has increased its support for self-ruled Taiwan with renewed arms sales and upgraded contact between officials, drawing repeated protests from Beijing.