China says Taiwan is 'not Ukraine' & has always been part of China

Doubling down.

Kayla Wong | February 25, 2022, 02:53 PM

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Taiwan is "not Ukraine" and has always been "an inalienable part of China", Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday (Feb. 23).

"This is an indisputable legal and historical fact," she said.

Hua was dismissing the concerns of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said on Feb. 19 that there would be damaging consequences worldwide if Western nations failed to help support Ukraine's right to independence, Reuters reported.

The Chinese government views Taiwan as part of its territory, and has not renounced the use of force to bring the self-ruled island under the mainland fold.

To Beijing, Taiwan is a sensitive core issue that has no room for negotiation.

Chinese officials are also under pressure to perform for a domestic audience, and to display their objection to the slightest gesture that hints at Taiwan being a separate entity from the mainland.

Taiwan has vehemently rejected China's claims over itself, with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen saying plainly that the self-governed island is "already independent".

Taiwan calls for vigilance

In response to the Ukraine crisis, Tsai has condemned Russia's infringement of Ukraine's sovereignty, and called for all parties to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner.

According to a press release issued on Feb. 23, she also called for Taiwan to ramp up vigilance on military activities in the area.

China has ramped up military pressure on Taiwan in the past two years, increasing the frequency of military aircraft incursions into Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

On Feb. 24, hours after Russia invaded Ukraine, Taiwan's defence ministry reported that nine Chinese aircraft -- eight J-16 Chinese fighter jets and one Y-8 reconnaissance prop airplane -- had entered the southwest tip of its ADIZ, leaving Taiwanese airforce to scramble in response to warn away the aircraft.

Tsai also said "forces outside of Taiwan" are making use of the Ukraine crisis to spread misinformation and weaken the faith of Taiwanese citizens, and so the government must prevent and combat such misinformation.

China dismissed Taiwan's expression of "empathy" for Ukraine

Previously, Tsai has expressed "empathy" for Ukraine's situation, and likened it to threats the island is facing from China, Taipei Times reported.

However, an official from China's Taiwan Affairs Office dismissed such "empathy" as "unreasonable self-pity", China Daily reported.

The Taiwanese people, however, do not necessarily agree with Beijing.

A poll conducted last December by Taipei-based non-profit organisation Taiwan Foundation for Democracy found that 72.5 per cent of those surveyed are willing to fight to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack from China, Taipei Times reported.

The percentage, however, fell when asked if they would fight against China if the attack occurred after Taiwan declared independence, suggesting a desire to keep the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

A viral meme posted by a Taiwanese non-governmental organisation last year in December in response to one posted by Ukraine's official Twitter account also perhaps speaks of the sentiments the Taiwanese people have towards its neighbour to the west.

The meme came at a time of increasing military build-up for months from Russia on its border with Ukraine, which raised the fears of war among Ukrainians.

This was in spite of Moscow's insistence that they have been pulling back their forces from the borders.

In an estimation by Estonian intelligence, as many as 170,000 soldiers had been deployed before Russia's unilateral invasion on Ukraine on Feb. 24, Reuters reported.

Previously, when comparisons arose that likened Taiwan's situation to Afghanistan, which was promptly taken by the Taliban after the U.S. decided to pull its forces from the country, Tsai reiterated the importance of not relying on any external power for its own defence.

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Top image adapted via Chinese foreign ministry & Walid Berrazeg/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images