Beijing: 'If Taipei declares independence, it's war'. Washington: We will respond

China denies the "interference" of external forces and the "provocations" of Taiwanese separatists. Chinese military: " To contain China, mission impossible". Pentagon: Ready to cooperate with China, but we have obligations towards Taipei. The doubts of the Taiwanese.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - "If Taipei declares independence, it is war". Wu Qian, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Defense, yesterday raised the tone against the new US administration of Joe Biden and the Taiwanese administration of Tsai Ing-wen, accused of carrying out a separatist agenda for the island.

Wu stressed that the recent military activities of the People's Liberation Army are a necessary response to the " interference by external forces and the provocations of the Taiwan independence force".

Beijing considers Taiwan a "rebel province", and has never ruled out reconquering it with the use of force. In reality, the island has been independent of China since 1949; at the time, Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists found refuge there after losing the civil war on the mainland against the communists, making it the heir to the Republic of China founded in 1912.

In a speech delivered on January 2, 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the people of Taiwan to accept the fact that the island "must and will be" reunified with China. The Chinese leader called for peaceful reunification on the basis of the "one country, two systems" principle, but warned that Beijing reserves the right to use force to achieve this.

For several days, the Chinese air forces have been carrying out large-scale operations near the island. Yesterday, six military aircraft from Beijing flew over the Taiwanese air identification zone. Over the weekend, the Chinese flew 28 aircraft in the area: an impressive number no seen in similar operations for many years.

The Asian giant has intensified military pressure on Taiwan - including with naval activities - since last September. According to most observers, with these raids the Chinese government wants to signal its displeasure to the Biden administration, which seems unwilling to abandon the harsh line of confrontation with China inaugurated by Donald Trump.

Referring to US support for Taipei, Wu Qian was succinct: "Containing China, mission impossible ". Washington's response was not long in coming. Last night the Defense Department called the exit of the Chinese counterpart "unhappy". The Pentagon reiterated that it will continue to support Taiwan's defensive capabilities: "We are ready to cooperate with Beijing, but we have obligations we intend to respect."

Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is committed to defending the island. Adopted in 1979 after the formal diplomatic recognition of Communist China, the measure does not specify the actual nature of Washington’s commitment: a "strategic ambiguity" that produces ongoing tensions with Beijing.

Taipei does not seem entirely reassured by the words of the Biden administration. Some sections of the government and Taiwanese society fear that sooner or later their country will be "sold out" by the Americans to safeguard economic relations with Beijing. According to various analysts on the island, however, the new US president will in all likelihood be less "direct" than Trump towards China, but more resolute than Barack Obama.