China to Take 'Necessary Measures' to Keep Taiwan, 'Resolutely Defend' from U.S.

China has issued a new warning to U.S. President Joe Biden's administration against sailing Navy warships through the disputed waters near Taiwan. It has also called on the self-ruling island to seek reunification with the mainland ahead of the first high-profile talks between Beijing and Washington.

Responding to last week's transit of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn through the Taiwan Strait, a spokesperson for the Beijing-based Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian warned Wednesday that the move "sent the wrong signal to the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces, deliberately disrupting the regional situation and undermining the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait."

"We firmly oppose this," Zhu said, calling on the United States to abide by the "one-China principle" and "the Three Communiques" signed with China regarding the status of Taiwan since Washington and Beijing first began talks nearly half a century ago.

Washington first recognized the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing in 1979, severing official ties with the rival Taipei government that had been expelled to Taiwan after losing a civil war three decades earlier. But the U.S. continues to foster unofficial diplomatic and military relations with what China considers a breakaway province.

Zhu said the Chinese armed forces were at the ready to deter U.S. moves in the sensitive region.

"The People's Liberation Army will always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," she said, noting that the Taiwan issue is "China's internal affair and does not allow any external interference."

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A destroyer detachment of the People's Liberation Army Navy Eastern Theater Command conducts live-fire drills in the East China Sea in this clip shared on March 12. Chinese People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command

China has always reserved the right to reintegrate Taiwan under the mainland government, and to do so either through diplomatic efforts, as with the former U.K. colony of Hong Kong and the Portuguese colony of Macau, or, if necessary, through military force.

The issue has long been a core theme of Chinese politics, and the matter came up during the annual Two Sessions meetings held earlier this month by the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The gatherings produced the country's 14th Five-Year Plan, which Zhu said would serve as an opportunity to improve cross-strait ties.

She said the latest formula settled on in Beijing would emphasize investment to improve Taiwan's development, as well as "firmly promote the peaceful and integrated development of cross-strait relations, and firmly advance the process of reunification of the motherland."

But Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progress Party has declined Chinese overtures, seeking more U.S. support to fend off a potential attack should Beijing seek the military option. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has suggested that the island, officially the Republic of China, already constitutes a de facto state.

Zhu issued a warning to this end.

"In order to safeguard the common interests of the compatriots on both sides of the strait and the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation," she said, "we will never sit back and watch any form of 'Taiwan independence' separatist actions, and will take all necessary measures to counteract it."

The issue is set to come up as Chinese Communist Party Central Foreign Affairs Commission Director Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi sit down with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday for the first time since Biden took office in January.

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The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn transits the Taiwan Street, March 10. The 7th Fleet was said by the U.S. Navy to be on a mission "to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific Region." Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite/USS John Finn/U.S. Navy

One senior Biden administration official identified some top issues to come up "as Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, economic coercion of allies" along with "concerns about China's actions to impinge on freedom of navigation – it's taking increasingly aggressive actions with respect to some of those spaces as well, but and "concerns about in the technology space, in the economic space."

Chinese officials have warned they would remain steadfast on the domestic front.

"It is the United States that has been flexing muscles and practicing coercion and intimidation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a press briefing Wednesday. "Issues concerning Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are China's domestic affairs that brook no foreign interference."

He said this didn't mean, however, that such topics would be off the agenda altogether.

"We hope that, through this dialogue, the two sides can follow through on the consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden in their phone call, focus on cooperation, manage differences and bring China-U.S. relations back to the right track," Zhao said. "We didn't say that Taiwan, Hong Kong- and Xinjiang-related issues cannot be discussed during the dialogue. We will brief the U.S. side on the relevant situation and express our solemn position."