Criticising China over Taiwan will have dangerous consequences, Foreign Minister Qin Gang warned Friday, as he insisted Beijing is a “growing force for peace and justice”.
Two weeks ago, China launched three days of military exercises around Taiwan – simulating targeted strikes and a blockade of the island – in response to a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“Recently, there has been some absurd rhetoric accusing China… of unilaterally changing the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, through force or coercion, and of disrupting peace and stability across the Strait,” Qin said as he gave the keynote speech at a forum on Chinese modernisation.
“Such claims go against basic common sense on international relations and historical justice,” he told the audience in Shanghai.
“The logic is absurd and the consequences dangerous.”
China claims Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to bring the island under its control one day.
“The Taiwan question is the core of the core interests of China,” Qin continued.
“We will never back down in face of any act that undermines China’s sovereignty and security. Those who play with fire on Taiwan will eventually get themselves burned.”
Qin will visit the Philippines later, a week after the largest-ever joint US-Philippines military exercises in the South China Sea, another area of territorial dispute for Beijing.
The remarks on Taiwan came towards the end of a speech in which Qin repeatedly emphasised China’s peaceful intentions.
“We have the best record in abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN charter, international law, and the basic norms of international relations,” he said.
Pointing out China’s role in helping to bring about a recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, he also reiterated Beijing’s positioning of itself as a mediator in the Ukraine war.
“China is not adding fuel to the fire or taking advantage of the situation,” he said, adding it was pushing peace talks to de-escalate the crisis instead.
“Facts have proved that China’s march toward modernisation is a growing force for peace and justice.”
Other speakers at the Lanting Forum included Brazil’s former president Dilma Rousseff and The Gambia’s Foreign Minister Mamadou Tangara.
“China has put forward a different path to modernisation,” said Rousseff.
She emphasised that there was no “one size fits all” model for development, a message echoed repeatedly throughout the forum’s opening ceremony.