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China ready to go to war for Taiwan

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Chinese Defence Ministry warns US that China will defend 'national sovereignty' and 'territorial integrity'

BEIJING: China's Defence Ministry warned yesterday that it was ready for war if there was a move toward Taiwan's independence, accusing the United States of undermining global stability and denouncing its arms sales to the self-ruled island.

This month, the Pentagon said the US State Department had approved sales of weapons requested by Taiwan, including tanks and Stinger missiles estimated to be worth US$2.2 billion (S$3 billion).

China responded by saying it would impose sanctions on US firms involved in any deals.

Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a news briefing on a defence white paper - the first in several years to outline the military's strategic concerns - that China would make its greatest effort for peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

"However, we must firmly point out that seeking Taiwan independence is a dead end," Mr Wu said.

"If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China's military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity."

The US is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China deems a wayward province. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

The US has no formal ties with democratic Taiwan, but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself.

The Chinese ministry said the US had "provoked intensified competition among major countries, significantly increased its defence expenditure... and undermined global strategic stability."

China's defence spending would maintain moderate and steady growth, but it was relatively low, compared with that of other major countries, it added.

"There is still a wide gap between China's defence expenditure and the requirements for safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests," it said.

Reports of a secret pact with Cambodia granting China's armed forces exclusive access to part of the Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand were not in accordance with the facts, Mr Wu added.

"China and Cambodia have in the past carried out positive exchanges and cooperation on military drills, personnel training and logistics," he said.

"This kind of cooperation does not target any third party."

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said later that Beijing's "provocative behaviour... seriously violated the peace principle in international laws and relations, challenging regional safety and order".

"We urge Beijing authorities to renounce irrational, malicious acts such as the use of force, and to improve cross-strait relations and handle issues including Hong Kong rationally, so that it can be a responsible regional member," it said.