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China warns against crossing ‘red lines’ in Taiwan

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has warned the self-governed island against pushing for independence, promising not to hold back if separatist forces cross “red lines” in an attempt to block reunification.

Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the agency, which is responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies related to the island, said on Wednesday that China would “have to take drastic measures” should “separatist forces in Taiwan seeking independence provoke, exert force, or even break through any red line.”

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While the spokesman has not clarified exactly what “red lines” Taipei should not cross, he denounced “external intervention” in China’s affairs, including in its attempts to reunite with the island. Such foreign meddling, and “provocations” by Taiwan’s own pro-independence forces, are bound to become “sharper and more intense” over the next few months, the spokesman said, predicting that the already tense situation in the region would flare up, growing “more complex and severe.”

Ma appeared to be referencing the United States and its allies when he warned about foreign interference. While the US has maintained “strategic ambiguity” towards Taiwan, refusing to say whether it would deploy its forces in the case of a full-blown military conflict breaking out between Taipei and Beijing, Washington and its allies have ramped up war drills in the region.

In October, before the White House backpedaled on his statement, US President Joe Biden went as far as to say that the US was “committed” to protecting Taiwan from any hypothetical Chinese attack. The Pentagon claimed this month that China was “likely preparing” an invasion on the island.

Meanwhile, Taipei has dismissed Beijing’s accusation, insisting it has been pursuing a policy of “not provoking” Beijing. In its own statement on Wednesday, it called on China to “seriously reflect on its work towards Taiwan and make a correct judgment on the situation.”

While Beijing considers Taiwan to be an inalienable part of Chinese territory, Taipei insists that Taiwan has been an independent country since 1949, when the losing side of the Chinese Civil War fled to the island.

Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Taiwan “a wanderer” which would “eventually go home” and unify with the mainland, while accusing Washington of seeking to undermine the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

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