China toughened its language towards Taiwan on Thursday, warning after recent stepped up military activities near the island that “independence means war” and that its armed forces were acting in response to provocation and foreign interference. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, reported multiple Chinese fighter jets and bombers entering its southwestern air defence identification zone last weekend, prompting Washington to urge Beijing to stop pressuring Taiwan.
China believes that Taiwan’s democratically-elected government is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence, though Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name. Asked at a monthly news briefing about the air force’s recent activities, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. China routinely describes Taiwan as its most important and sensitive issue in relations with the United States, which under the former Trump administration ramped up support for the island in terms of arms sales and senior officials visiting Taipei. President Joe Biden’s government, in office for a week, has reaffirmed its commitment to Taiwan as being “rock solid”, potentially auguring further strains with Beijing. Taiwan has denounced China’s threats and efforts at intimidation, and Tsai has vowed to defend the island’s freedom and not be coerced.