Reunification is inevitable, Beijing warns Taiwan as HK localists set to attend Taipei forum

30-Dec-2016 Intellasia | SCMP | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Message comes after Hong Kong lawmakers invited to political meeting and PLA aircraft carrier completes ‘routine’ exercise off Taiwanese coast

Beijing on Wednesday warned that attempts by Taiwan to resist unification with the mainland would be in vain, as Hong Kong’s localist lawmakers confirmed they would attend a political forum in Taipei next month.

Beijing had issued its warning to the self-ruled island as the People’s Liberation Army’s aircraft carrier conducted drills off the Taiwanese coast.

Beijing is facing a host of threats to its status quo as the independence-leaning leadership of Taiwan grows more vocal, protesters in Hong Kong call for complete separation from the mainland, and an incoming Donald Trump presidency in the US threatens to take a more hardline stance in its ties with the world’s second-largest economy.

“A small group of pro-independence forces in Taiwan are colluding with Hong Kong independence advocates to divide the nation,” An Fengshan, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office at the State Council, said.

“Their attempts will not succeed. They will end up with their heads broken and bleeding.”

An was speaking at a press briefing after Ta Kung Pao asked him to comment on Taiwan’s pro-independence New Power Party’s invitation for several Hong Kong lawmakers who advocate “so-called self-determination” to attend a forum in Taipei next month.

The party invited three localist lawmakers – Edward Yiu Chung-yim, Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who chairs the Demosisto party – as well as Law’s party colleague Joshua Wong Chi-fung for a dialogue with NPP’s legislators and leaders on how to keep the momentum of civic movements while dealing with their work in the legislature.

All three lawmakers and Wong have accepted the invitation. Law said it was “just an ordinary exchange between civic organisations in the two places” while Yiu said the forum had nothing to do with independence.

During Wednesday’s press briefing, An said Taiwan was the “most sensitive and complicated issue in China-US relations”, adding that Beijing’s position on territorial integrity was unswerving and that the US should deal with Taiwan issues cautiously.

The PLA’s Liaoning aircraft carrier this week sailed 90 nautical miles south of the island in an exercise described by Beijing as routine, but which came after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen spoke by phone with Donald Trump, who questioned whether the US should continue to respect the one-China policy.

The carrier was due to arrive at a naval base in Hainan province yesterday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said. Taiwanese Defence minister Feng Shih-kuan said the island was facing a growing “threat” from enemies and should remain on alert.

Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations and executive director of the China Centre for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea at Nanjing University, said the mainland, Taiwan and the US were seeing how far they could test cross-strait issues.

“I think the latest developments give the Tsai Ing-wen administration a warning that a deterioration in Sino-US relations is not going to benefit Taiwan and that she should really think about changing her own attitudes towards the mainland.”

The US and other regional powers are watching the military drill. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama agreed while visiting Pearl Harbour to closely monitor the movements of the Liaoning “from a mid-term and long-term perspective”, Kyodo reported.

Veerle Nouwens, research analyst for Asia Studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said the drill could be aimed at conveying the apparent regional operational capabilities of the PLA Navy. “China wants to demonstrate that it has the maritime capabilities that the US traditionally held in the region and is not only intent on having them, but that it knows how to use them,” Nouwens said.

Additional reporting by Kristin Huang


Category: Hong Kong

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