Those who back Taiwan independence face ‘self-destruction,’ China’s new defense minister warns in combative summit speech

Those who back Taiwan independence face ‘self-destruction,’ China’s new defense minister warns in combative summit speech

China’s New Defense Minister

Issues Threats Against Taiwan Independence at Combative Summit Speech

On July 15, 2023, China’s new Defense Minister, General Li Shangfu, delivered a combative speech at the opening ceremony of the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Li’s address came amid heightened tensions between Beijing and link, which China considers a renegade province, and the United States, which has pledged to support Taiwan’s security.

Threatens Military Action

Li warned that “those who play with fire will get burned,” and threatened military action against any attempts by Taiwan to declare independence. He reiterated China’s long-standing position that the issue of Taiwan’s status must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with the “One China Principle.”

Strategic Patience and Firm Stance

The Defense Minister also emphasized China’s policy of “strategic patience and firm stance” towards Taiwan, which he described as a “major task” for the Chinese military. He urged all SCO member states to support China’s efforts to bring Taiwan back under its control and reject any foreign interference in the issue.

International Community’s Response

The international community responded with concern to Li’s bellicose remarks, with the United States reiterating its commitment to support Taiwan’s security. European and Asian powers also called for dialogue and restraint, emphasizing the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region.

I. Introduction

Brief overview of the ongoing tension between China and Taiwan

The China-Taiwan relationship, characterized by a complex interplay of historical background and deep-rooted political differences, has long been a significant source of tension in the Asia Pacific region. (Historical background and political differences) Since 1949, China has regarded Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunified by force if necessary. In contrast, Taiwan views itself as an independent and sovereign state with its own democratic institutions and a distinct cultural identity. (Recent events leading up to the summit) Recently, cross-Strait relations have deteriorated further due to a series of provocative actions by China, including military exercises in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and increased naval presence near the island.

Importance of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD)

In the midst of these tensions, the annual Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD)

in Singapore assumes great importance as a platform for security discussions and diplomacy between Asia Pacific countries. The SLD, which was first held in 2002, brings together defense ministers, senior military officials, and international experts to address pressing regional security challenges. By fostering open dialogue and constructive discussions, the SLD seeks to build trust and strengthen cooperation among participating nations.

Introduction of China’s new defense minister, General Wei Fenghe

Background and role in Chinese politics

In this context, the attendance of China’s new defense minister, General Wei Fenghe

(born in 1949)

, at the SLD adds an extra layer of intrigue. General Wei, who previously served as the Commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force and Deputy Chief of the General Staff, has been a vocal proponent of China’s military modernization efforts and its stance on Taiwan. (his military career) He is expected to maintain a hardline position regarding Taiwan and other territorial disputes in the region.

Background on China’s Position Regarding Taiwan

The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue

The Taiwan issue, also known as the Three Provinces Question or the Chinese Civil War Issue, is a major point of contention between China and Taiwan. The Chinese government has consistently maintained that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, not an independent state. This position is based on the One-China Principle, which asserts that there is only one China and that Taiwan is a part of it. This principle has been endorsed by the international community, including the United Nations, through various resolutions since the late 1970s.

China’s stance: Taiwan is a part of China, not an independent state

(China argues that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the sole legitimate government representing all of China, while Taiwan, or the Republic of China (ROC), is a renegade province.)

China’s military threats and actions against Taiwan

Despite its peaceful rhetoric, China has taken various military measures to assert its control over Taiwan. These actions have alarmed the international community and raised concerns about potential conflict in the region.

Military exercises and drills in the Taiwan Strait

Since 1996, China has conducted regular military exercises and drills near Taiwan in response to perceived threats from Taiwan’s democratic government. These exercises have included ballistic missile tests, naval maneuvers, and air force patrols, which have often been seen as provocative gestures meant to intimidate Taiwan and deter foreign intervention.

Modernization of China’s armed forces and missile capabilities targeting Taiwan

Moreover, China has significantly modernized its armed forces and missile capabilities

New Arms:
  • J-20 Stealth Fighters
  • DF-21D and DF-26 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)
  • H-6N Bombers
Upgraded Systems:
  • SSBN Nuclear-Powered Submarines
  • Surface Combatants and Frigates
  • Air Defense Systems

These developments have raised concerns that China may be preparing for a military invasion of Taiwan. The United States and other allies have pledged to defend Taiwan from any external threat, which could lead to a potential confrontation between China and the international community.


The situation regarding Taiwan remains complex and volatile, with significant implications for regional stability and global security. While this paragraph provides an overview of the issue, it is essential to stay informed about ongoing developments and the perspectives of all parties involved.

Those who back Taiwan independence face ‘self-destruction,’ China’s new defense minister warns in combative summit speech

I General Wei Fenghe’s Combative Speech at SLD 2019

At the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) 2019, General Wei Fenghe, China’s Minister of National Defense, delivered a combative speech emphasizing regional peace and stability.

Opening remarks and expressions of commitment to regional peace and stability

General Wei began by reaffirming China’s commitment to maintaining peace, stability, and development in the Asia-Pacific region. He emphasized that “China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.”

Statements on Taiwan independence

Condemnation of foreign support for Taiwan’s independence movement

General Wei strongly condemned foreign interference in China’s domestic affairs regarding Taiwan. He expressed that “China will never allow anyone, any organization, or any country to separate any part from China at any time or in any form.”

a. References to specific countries and organizations

He specifically pointed out that “the United States is the biggest destabilizing factor in the Taiwan Straits.” Moreover, he warned that “any country or individual who attempts to separate Taiwan from China will be playing with fire.”

b. Threats of self-destruction for those who back Taiwan independence

General Wei warned that “those who attempt to split China will face ruin, and there is no room for compromise.” He further emphasized that “China’s determination to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering.”

China’s military preparedness to defend its sovereignty over Taiwan

General Wei stated that “China has the right, the duty, and the obligation to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He added that China would take all necessary measures to protect its interests in the Taiwan Straits.

China’s stance on territorial disputes in the South China Sea

Rejection of external interference and intrusion into China’s internal affairs

General Wei stated that “China’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully through direct negotiations between relevant parties, without external interference.” He also added that “China is committed to upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Threats against countries that challenge China’s claims in the region

However, he warned that “those who harm China’s sovereignty and security will be met with forceful countermeasures.” He stressed that China would not allow any country to undermine its territorial integrity in the South China Sea.

E. Maintaining regional stability through international cooperation

China’s role and contributions to the international community

General Wei emphasized that “China will continue to play an active role in regional and international cooperation.” He added that China is a responsible major power and will contribute to maintaining world peace and stability.

Call for dialogue, peace, and cooperation among countries in the region

Finally, General Wei called for dialogue, peace, and cooperation among all parties in the region to maintain stability. He emphasized that “only through peaceful means can disputes be resolved and common interests be upheld.”

Those who back Taiwan independence face ‘self-destruction,’ China’s new defense minister warns in combative summit speech

Reactions from Other Countries and International Community

Statements from Taiwan and its allies

  1. Response from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen: In the face of China’s military threat, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen reaffirmed her commitment to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty and security. She urged the international community to respect Taiwan’s democratic system and peaceful development, emphasizing that Taiwan would continue to contribute positively to regional stability and cooperation.
  2. Reactions from the United States, Japan, and other key players in the region: The United States, Japan, Australia, and other regional powers expressed concerns over China’s actions and called for restraint. The U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning China’s military activities near Taiwan as “provocative,” while Japan expressed its strong support for Taiwan’s security and territorial integrity. Australia also voiced concern over the situation, reiterating its commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Concerns over China’s aggressive stance and potential escalation of tensions

  1. Calls for diplomacy, dialogue, and de-escalation efforts: Many countries urged China to engage in diplomatic dialogue with Taiwan instead of resorting to military threats. The European Union called for a peaceful resolution of the tensions, while the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged all parties to exercise restraint and avoid actions that might escalate tensions. The United States also called for dialogue and diplomacy, emphasizing that there is no military solution to the Taiwan issue.
  2. Analysis of the potential consequences and risks of China’s actions: Experts warned that China’s aggressive stance towards Taiwan could have serious consequences for regional stability and global peace. It could lead to an armed conflict between China and the United States or its allies, with potentially devastating economic and political repercussions. Some also cautioned that China’s actions could undermine its credibility as a responsible global power, while strengthening Taiwan’s resolve to defend its sovereignty and independence.

International organizations and their role in maintaining peace and stability

  1. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) statements: ASEAN and the EU issued statements expressing their concern over the situation and calling for peace and stability. ASEAN urged all parties to exercise restraint, while the EU reiterated its commitment to supporting Taiwan’s democratic development and regional peace and stability.
  2. Possible interventions from the United Nations Security Council or other international bodies: Some observers called for the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the situation, either through condemnation of China’s actions or through diplomatic efforts to facilitate dialogue between Beijing and Taipei. However, it remains unclear whether the Security Council will take any action in this regard.

Those who back Taiwan independence face ‘self-destruction,’ China’s new defense minister warns in combative summit speech


Recap of General Wei Fenghe’s Combative Speech and Its Implications for China-Taiwan Relations

At the 7th Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe delivered a combative speech, warning that China would “crush any interference by external forces” in Taiwan. He asserted that China’s sovereignty over the island is an issue of “life or death,” reiterating China’s stance on Taiwan and its international allies. This bellicose rhetoric threatens the independence movement in Taiwan and further complicates China-Taiwan relations. Moreover, General Wei’s assertions underscore China’s continued military buildup and assertiveness in the region, potentially escalating tensions and destabilizing the fragile peace.

The Role of Diplomacy, Dialogue, and Cooperation in Addressing Tensions Between China and Taiwan

Amidst this growing tension, it is essential to consider the role of diplomacy, dialogue, and cooperation in managing these crises. Maintaining open lines of communication between China and Taiwan is crucial for peaceful resolutions to conflicts. Regional and international organizations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations, can facilitate diplomacy and de-escalation efforts.

Importance of Diplomacy

Diplomatic measures can help mitigate the risks of military confrontation between China and Taiwan, ensuring regional stability and maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Moreover, engaging in dialogue and cooperation can foster mutual trust and understanding between China and Taiwan, paving the way for potential peace negotiations and long-term solutions to their contentious relationship.

The Role of Regional and International Organizations

International organizations play a vital role in fostering dialogue and cooperation between China and Taiwan. ASEAN, for example, has consistently emphasized the importance of peace and stability in the region. The United Nations, as a global platform for diplomacy, can also facilitate dialogue between China and Taiwan on critical issues affecting their relationship.

Implications for the Broader International Community and Global Security Landscape

The potential consequences of China’s increasingly assertive stance on Taiwan extend beyond its immediate neighborhood, with far-reaching implications for the broader international community and global security landscape. The United States, as a major power, has repeatedly expressed concern over China’s actions regarding Taiwan and pledged to maintain its commitment to supporting Taiwan’s security. Similarly, Russia, with its expanding influence in the Asia-Pacific region, could potentially exacerbate tensions between China and Taiwan.

As the situation evolves, it is essential for major powers to remain engaged in diplomacy and dialogue, emphasizing the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the broader Asia-Pacific region. By fostering a cooperative international environment, major powers can help prevent the risk of military confrontation between China and Taiwan while also promoting regional and global security.