Smash to smithereens’: China threatens all-out war over Taiwan

Defence minister warns his US counterpart China will ‘not hesitate to start war’ if self-ruled island engages in ‘independence plot’.

China will “not hesitate to start a war” and “smash to smithereens” any Taiwan independence efforts, its defence minister warned his US counterpart in the pair’s first face-to-face talks.

“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost,” Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said during a meeting with Lloyd Austin on Friday.

“The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] would have no choice but to fight … and crush any attempt of Taiwan independence, safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Despite the combative words, Wei said the talks with Austin “went smoothly”.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore for nearly an hour, double the time initially allotted.

The Chinese minister also pledged that Beijing would “smash to smithereens any Taiwan independence plot and resolutely uphold the unification of the motherland”, according to the Chinese defence ministry.

“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan… Using Taiwan to contain China will never prevail,” it said in a statement.

Taiwan – a self-ruled, democratic island – lives under the constant threat of invasion by China. Beijing views the island as its territory and has pledged to one day seize it – by force if necessary.

Austin told Wei that Beijing must “refrain from further destabilising actions toward Taiwan”, the Pentagon said.

An American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said most of the meeting focused on Taiwan and Austin reiterated Washington’s position on Taiwan was unchanged, while criticising China’s “military aggression”.

“The United States has major concerns about increasing PLA behaviour, particularly unsafe, aggressive, unprofessional behaviour and is concerned that the PLA may be attempting to change the status quo through its operational behaviour,” the official said.

A Chinese fighter aircraft dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea region in May, and Canada’s military accused Chinese warplanes of harassing its patrol aircraft as they monitor North Korea sanction evasions.

‘Authoritarian expansionism’

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said her country is determined to defend itself and is confident this resolve will “rally fellow democracies to our cause”, pledging not to bend to pressure.

Taiwan says only its people have the right to decide the island’s future. Its government says while it wants peace with China, it will defend itself if necessary.

Tsai said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown again “these regimes” will stop at nothing in the pursuit of expansionist goals.

“As we watch images from half a world away of atrocities committed against another democracy on the frontlines of authoritarian expansionism, I would like to stress that, like Ukraine, Taiwan will not bend to pressure,” she added, without directly mentioning China.

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