Taiwan's foreign minister: 'We need to prepare ourselves for a possible conflict' with China

In an interview with CNN, Taiwan’s foreign minister offered his assessment of the threat from mainland China. He said that China wants to reunite Taiwan with the mainland peacefully if possible but by force if necessary. And because Taiwan isn’t interested in being part of a communist dictatorship, he says that means the island needs to prepare for conflict:

China’s escalating military intimidation of Taiwan shows the self-governed island “needs to prepare” for a possible military conflict, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an exclusive interview with CNN…

“As Taiwan decision makers, we cannot take any chances, we have to be prepared,” Wu told CNN in Taipei on Wednesday. “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.”

Wu, who has served as minister of foreign affairs since 2018, was accused by Beijing in May of being a “diehard separatist” after remarks he made during a news conference that Taiwan would fight “to the very last day” if attacked by China.

Taiwan is right to be worried. Our own military has suggested Chinese attempts to take over Taiwan could be coming much sooner than anyone expects, possibly in the next six years. This frank warning from Taiwan’s foreign minister comes on the same day a Chinese defense minister warned that any attempt to seek independence would lead to war:

Chinese defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said Thursday at a regular press briefing that Taiwan’s unification with the mainland is a “historical inevitability.” Attempts to declare Taiwanese independence would be a dead-end road, and seeking independence means “war,” the spokesman said.

This isn’t the first time China has issued this statement. Back in January a different spokesman warned that Taiwanese independence would lead to war.

It’s not clear what prompted this most recent outburst but it might have been connected to a recent visit to Taiwan by Sen. Tammy Duckworth. That visit on June 12 made news because Duckworth specifically said “America will not abandon Taiwan.” She and two other Senators also met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. China is very sensitive about any meetings with US officials which suggest Taiwan has its own independent foreign policy separate from the mainland.

In short, China is behaving like a whiny child having a tantrum and making threats because Xi Jinping is determined to force the island under his control to burnish his own reputation. For now we’re in something of a stalemate but you can bet that China is looking for an excuse to escalate this, just as they did in Hong Kong. Here’s the full CNN interview with Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.