In an interview with CNN aired Thursday, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said the island nation needs to prepare for a military conflict with China.
Wu told CNN, “As Taiwan decision-makers, we cannot take any chances, we have to be prepared. When the Chinese government is saying they would not renounce the use of force, and they conduct military exercises around Taiwan, we would rather believe that it is real.”
CNN correspondent Will Ripley tweeted another portion of the interview with Wu. “CNN EXCLUSIVE During a wide-ranging interview in Taipei, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu tells @EricCheungwc & me Taiwan ‘needs to prepare’ for a possible military conflict with China. He warns the west China is trying to expand its sphere of influence.”
During the interview segment, Wu said he believes China is trying to “unify Taiwan” through peaceful means if that is possible, but are willing to use military force if they feel it is necessary.
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, mainland China maintains its claim of sovereignty over the island. The U.S. has recognized Beijing’s territorial claim since 1979 through the “One-China Policy” but the U.S. has also maintained a practice of strategic ambiguity by interacting with Taiwanese officials on various topics.
Asked about the likelihood that China and Taiwan could enter into armed conflict, Wu said, “We hope it doesn’t happen. A war between Taiwan and China is in nobody’s interest. The important thing is that Taiwan is a symbol of democracy, and Taiwan is a high symbol of democracy at a time when China is trying to expand its authoritarian influence. Taiwan is on the front line.”
China has flown warplanes around Taiwanese airspace on a nearly daily basis for months in an apparent effort to exhaust Taiwan’s smaller air force, which often deploys to intercept Chinese aircraft. Earlier this month, China sent a record-setting 28 warplanes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), including 20 total fighter jets, four nuclear-capable bombers, two aerial early warning aircraft, an electronic warfare aircraft, and an anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
In addition to its near-constant air campaign around Taiwan, China has frequently warned the U.S. against interacting with Taiwan.
Earlier this month, Snr. Col. Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense said “If anyone dares to separate Taiwan island from China, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will give it a head-on strike and firmly defend national reunification and territorial integrity at all costs.”
In April, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China should avoid “aggressive actions” in the Taiwan Strait and said the U.S. is committed to ensuring the island’s self-defense. Blinken said, “It would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change the existing status quo,” between China and Taiwan.