China at the UN vowed “forceful steps” to oppose “interference” on Taiwan underscoring its commitment to claim the self-governing island. In a veiled threat, the country’s top diplomat said anyone who gets in the way of China’s unification with Taiwan will be “crushed by the wheels of history”.
“Only when China is fully reunified can there be true peace across the Taiwan Strait,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told the 77th high-level session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday. He said Beijing will “take the most forceful steps to oppose external interference”.
Taiwan separated from mainland China after a civil war in 1949 and now functions with its own government, but China vehemently defends its claim on Taiwan. The island has been a bone of contention between China and United States, with tensions escalating following a recent visit by US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi. This was followed by large-scale Chinese military drills – as well as a pledge by US President Joe Biden to defend the democratically governed island.
Wang said Taiwan, a core issue in the country’s policy, was an important part of the “post-war international order”. “China will block all efforts to create ‘Two Chinas’ or ‘One Taiwan’. The ‘One-China’ principle is crucial to safeguarding peace across the Taiwan Strait, and non-interference from other countries is vital for the region and the developing countries,” he said, adding that only when China was completely unified could there be peace across the Taiwan Strait.
He added: “Since ancient times, Taiwan has been an inseparable part of China’s territory… It is explicitly stated in the Potsdam Proclamation that all the territories that Japan has stolen from the Chinese, including Taiwan, shall be restored to China.”
Wang further said Beijing will continue to work for “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, and that it should combat “independence separatist activities”. He met with US secretary of state Antony Blinken for 90 minutes on Friday. After the meeting, China accused the US of sending “very wrong, dangerous signals” on Taiwan after Blinken said the maintenance of peace and stability over Taiwan was vitally important.
China may have appeared forceful in the use of language at the UNGA session, but the emphasis on Taiwan on a global platform is not out of the ordinary for the country. Even though Chinese Premier Xi Jinping was not present, his appearance at the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan last week and talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin were highly anticipated in the wake of the growing intimacy between the two world leaders.
Though China has not publicly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was firm in its opinion of promoting peaceful negotiation and diplomatic dialogue as key to resolving the conflict. It reiterated its stand at the UNGA, with Wang calling on Russia and Ukraine not to let the war “spill over”.
‘Don’t let Russia-Ukraine war spill over’
China called for a diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine conflict, which started after Russia invaded its neighbour on February 24. “We call on all parties concerned to keep the crisis from spilling over and to protect the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries,” Wang said.
He added: “China supports all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis. The pressing priority is to facilitate talks for peace. The fundamental solution is to address the legitimate security concerns of all parties and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture.”
During his visit to the UN, Wang also met with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines. At the SCO Summit, too, Putin had acknowledged Chinese “concerns” about Ukraine during their face-to-face meeting. Before the war, the Russian president had visited Beijing and the two countries had declared a tight alliance.
‘Uphold peace, oppose war’
Not just for the Russia-Ukraine conflict, China suggested peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy to most issues faced by the world today. “China’s answer is one and clear: Uphold peace and oppose war, peace is crucial for our future,” Wang said.
The Chinese foreign minister said the world was facing multiple challenges, especially after the scourge of the Covid pandemic and turbulence due to war and strife in Europe. “We are at a time of challenges… but this is also a time full of hope as societies are increasingly becoming digitalised and culturally diverse,” Wang said.
He proposed a few measures from China’s perspective for the goal of global strategic stability: development and elimination of poverty; openness as “protectionism will only boomerang”; cooperation as “biggest strength will come from solidarity among all countries”; strengthening solidarity and opposing division; equity and mutual respect as “no country is above another and none should use its power to bully other soverign powers”.
Wang said: “Countries around the world are like passengers on a ship; our world must embrace diversity and mankind must assume an inclusive path towards peace and development, fairness and justice, democracy and freedom that are common values of humanity.”
‘Developing countries no longer silent’
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China was committed to solidarity and pursued shared interests with a vast majority of countries, Wang said. “China is also an effective participant in global governance. President Xi (Jinping) had proposed a global community of development at the 76th session. As China forges ahead, its development will continue and it will deliver more benefits.
He said China had upheld the international order and stood firmly with developing countries as a member of the developing world. “China will continue to help them overcome difficulties. Developing countries are no longer silent, they have spoken out for justice and become a pillar for safeguarding equity and justice,” he added.
(With agency inputs)
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