China’ is prepared to ‘resolutely crush any form of Taiwan independence,” its military said on Tuesday, as the United States reportedly prepares to speed up sales of defensive weapons and other military aid to the self-governing island democracy.

A recent increase in exchanges between the US and Taiwanese militaries is an “extremely wrong and dangerous move,” Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Tan Kefei said in a statement and video posted online.

China’s People’s Liberation Army “continues to strengthen military training and preparations and will resolutely crush all forms of Taiwanese independence secession along with attempts at outside interference, and will resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Tan said, referring to Taiwan’s closest allies . , United States.

China claims the island of 23 million inhabitants as its own territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary.

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With the world’s largest navy, latest generation fighter jets and a huge arsenal of ballistic missiles, China has increased its threats by send aircraft and warships into waters and airspace around Taiwan. With more than 2 million members, the PLA also ranks as the world’s largest standing military, although transporting even part of the force in the event of an invasion is considered a huge logistical challenge.

Along with daily air and naval incursions around Taiwan, Beijing has been holding military exercises in and around the Taiwan Strait that divides the sides, seen in part as a rehearsal for a blockade or invasion that would have huge implications for security and economies around the world.

Such actions seek to harass Taiwan’s military and intimidate politicians and voters who will elect a new president and legislature next year.

The measures appear to have had limited effect, and most Taiwanese are determined to maintain their de facto independent status. Politicians and other public figures from Europe and the United States have also made frequent trips to Taipei to show their support, despite their countries’ lack of formal diplomatic ties in deference to Beijing.

Tan’s comments were prompted by a question from an unidentified reporter about reports that US President Joe Biden is preparing to approve the sale of $500 million in weapons to Taiwan, as well as sending more than 100 military personnel to evaluate training methods and make suggestions to improve the island’s defenses.

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Click to play video: 'Taiwan's Kinmen Island caught in the middle of conflict with China'

Taiwan’s Kinmen Island found itself in the middle of the conflict with China

Taiwan enjoys strong support from both the US Democratic and Republican parties, which have called on the Biden administration to follow up on nearly $19 billion in military items approved for sale but not yet delivered to Taiwan.

Administration officials have blamed the delayed deliveries on production bottlenecks related to problems from the Covid-19 pandemic to limited capacity and increased demand for weapons to aid Ukraine. Biden’s move would allow the export of items from existing US military stockpiles, speeding up the delivery of at least some of the hardware Taiwan needs to deter or repel any Chinese attack.

Among the items on backorder are Harpoon anti-ship missiles, F-16 fighter jets, shoulder-fired Javelin and Stinger missiles, and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, a truck-mounted multiple rocket and missile launcher that has become a critical weapon for Ukrainian troops who fighting Russian invasion forces.

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Click to play video: 'Taiwan fights back against election meddling, disinformation with creativity'

Taiwan fights back against election meddling, disinformation with creativity

Tan’s comments were in line with Beijing’s standard tone on what it calls “the core of China’s core interests.” The two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949, and Beijing views taking Taiwan under its control as key to asserting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Attempts to “pursue independence by relying on the United States” and “seek independence through military force” are a “dead end,” Tan said.

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Taiwan prepares for when – not if – China launches military attack: minister

With Sino-US relations at a historic low and the Taiwanese not amenable to Beijing’s demands for political concessions for unification, fears are growing of the likelihood of open conflict involving all three sides and possibly US treaty allies such as Japan.

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China’s diplomatic and economic support for Russia following its invasion of Ukraine has also increased tensions with Washington. Beijing is believed to be closely studying Moscow’s military failures in the conflict, while the West’s willingness to support Kiev is seen by some as a test of its determination to stand by Taiwan in the event of a conflict with China.

© 2023 The Canadian Press