China's Dong Jun warns Taiwanese separatist forces face 'self-destruction'

Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun speaks during the 21st Shangri-La Dialogue Summit in Singapore on June 2, 2024.

Nhac Nguyen | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE – Chinese Defense Minister Admiral Dong Jun has promised that anyone who seeks to separate Taiwan from China will face “self-destruction”.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the admiral called on “Taiwan independence forces” to “abandon the illusion and return to the right track of reunification.”

“Anyone who dares to separate Taiwan from China will only end in self-destruction,” he said.

In response to questions, Dong reiterated China's position that Taiwan is part of China and said Beijing was committed to peaceful reunification.

Taiwan is a democratically self-governing island and recently installed a new president on May 20.

During his speech and question-and-answer, Dong repeatedly blamed separatist forces for eroding the “One China” principle, which reflects Beijing's view that the country has sovereignty over Taiwan. The admiral said newly elected Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te made a “blatant” statement about his ambition for Taiwan's independence in his inauguration speech.

He also accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party of trying to change the island's constitution to “erase Chinese identity,” preventing people-to-people exchanges between Taiwan and mainland China and limiting the military's ability to to pursue independence is increased.

Taiwan has been doing that for decades Purchased US military hardwarewith recent purchases including advanced M1A2 Abrams tanks, modernized F-16 fighters and long-range artillery systems.

'Foreign forces'

China's defense minister also targeted unnamed “outside forces”, claiming they support Taiwanese separatists.

“We know that a major power continues to erode the 'One China' principle, distorts facts and even misinterprets UN General Assembly resolutions,” Dong said.

Although Dong had already devoted part of his speech to addressing China's concerns about Taiwan, he continued to lay out these issues in his first response during the question and answer session. When plenary chairman Bastian Giegerich of the International Institute for Strategic Studies recalled answering delegates' questions on other issues, Dong asked to finish his answer on Taiwan, describing it as “the core of our core interest”.

He added: “Facing the strong People's Liberation Army, their efforts will be futile, and their efforts can only lead to accelerated demise. [This will] only undermine the interests of the people of Taiwan. And that's the last thing we want to see in China.”

Tensions in the South China Sea

Dong noted that the two countries had reached several agreements recognized by the current and previous Philippine governments, such as allowing resupply of the ship garrison. Manila is conducting supply missions into the shoals for a small garrison of troops living aboard an aging warship that was deliberately run aground in 1999 to protect Manila's maritime claims.

“But lately they're not starting to recognize it [these agreements] not at all. This is a unilateral reneging on their promise… I think these are blackmail and hijacking rules. We always talk about a robust international order, [but] “I don't think this is even morally right,” he said.

In contrast, China's defense chief characterized the Chinese coast guard's actions as “very restrained in accordance with our law.”

“Our policy has been consistent over the past decades. We strive for a peaceful resolution of the disputes. But I also want to say that our tolerance for deliberate provocation will be limited.”

While delegates asked questions about other issues, such as ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, Dong focused most of his answers on Taiwan and the South China Sea.

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