“No one and no force can ever stop China’s full reunification,” defence minister Wei Fenghe told a security forum earlier in the week, piquing interest around the world and particularly among China’s regional neighbours.
Minister Wei made his comments specifically regarding Taiwan, claiming that separatist activities were “doomed to fail”, but it’s the overall message being sent that is of great cause of concern for the rest of the world.
“China is the only major country in the world that is yet to be completely reunified,” he said.
“Resolving the Taiwan question to realise China’s full reunification is the irresistible trend of the times, China’s greatest national interest, the righteous path to follow and the longing of all Chinese people.”
There’s growing concern that it is just a matter of time before China “reunifies” Taiwan by military force, despite President Xi Jinping insisting that reunification of “One China” would be done through “peaceful development”.
Their messages aren’t at all surprising, just a reiteration of the long-standing goals of communist China.
“No one and no force can ever stop China’s full reunification. We are committed to promoting the peaceful development of cross-Taiwan strait relations and the peaceful reunification of the country,” Minister Wei said.
“However, we will never allow separatists for Taiwan independence to have their way, nor allow interference by any external forces. Advancing China’s reunification is a just cause, while separatist activities are doomed to failure.”
As well as Taiwan, there’s also the aggressive antics of Beijing in disputed regions of the South China Sea.
“The South China Sea islands and Diaoyu Islands are inalienable parts of the Chinese territory. China exercises its national sovereignty to build infrastructure and deploy necessary defensive capabilities on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and to conduct patrols in the waters of Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea,” China’s White Paper said.
Late last year a Chinese colonel issued a warning to the US and its regional allies operating in the region, and more broadly the western Pacific Ocean, regarding China’s increased territorial and economic ambitions being challenged.
Dr Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) told Defence Connect, “2018 has been an interesting year in the South China Sea. It started fairly early on with the basing of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) on reclaimed islands in the SCS, the basing of the upgraded, H-6K nuclear-capable bomber on Woody Island and more recently the USS Decatur (DDG-73) incident really reinforces that China is not backing down from its territorial ambitions.”
With these hostile tactics, and an almost obsession with reclamation, its not just a concern of what China is doing, but concern of how far they’re going to be allowed to go.
Liberal MP Andrew Hastie controversially compared China’s attitudes, and the attitude of the rest of the world to them, to Nazi Germany, in an August opinion piece for a media outlet.
“The West once believed that economic liberalisation would naturally lead to democratisation in China,” he wrote. “This was our Maginot Line. It would keep us safe, just as the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940. But their thinking failed catastrophically.
“The French had failed to appreciate the evolution of mobile warfare. Like the French, Australia has failed to see how mobile our authoritarian neighbour has become.”
While its an extreme example, especially in this day and age, it still has relevance as the world remains intent on learning from past mistakes.
It would be folly to not at least acknowledge the possibility that China’s obsession with reclamation will lead to future conflict, and from their own military advancements, China knows that too.
Earlier this week, Defence Connect highlighted China’s rapid advancement in naval capabilities, particularly its growth in amphibious capabilities that would be of great help to Beijing’s goals in the South China Sea.
Also highlighted by Steve Kuper was China’s extensive development of surface combatants in comparison to the rest of the world, with the construction of over 100 warships, as well as the increased production of submarines for use in their region.
Nobody builds 100 warships if they aren’t prepared for war.
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