The Chinese government has once again had to dispel rumors that the country is on the brink of war with Taiwan amid a buildup of nationalist fervor.
The democratic island, claimed by China as a province, has complained of routine Chinese military activity in international airspace near its southwestern coastline. Between October 1 and 5, 150 People’s Liberation Army planes buzzed Taiwan’s air defenses in the largest display of force ever.
Beijing has never renounced the use of force against the island to achieve what it calls “national unification,” warning it could resort to “resolute measures” if the goal cannot be achieved on its terms.
The rigid, aggressive stance — made more uncompromising by ultra-nationalism, fueled by government and state media reports — has backfired in unexpected ways, leaving certain sectors of the public susceptible to speculation about an imminent declaration of war.
At a monthly press conference in Beijing on Thursday, China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian was asked about “heated public opinion on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” which led to the online spread of false government announcements purportingly re-imagined. had to be employed by former soldiers to fight Taiwan.
Wu said the public should only receive military information from official channels and warned that the internet is not above the law.
“It is extremely irresponsible and illegal to make up such military rumors on certain online platforms,” he added.
It is the second time this month that the government has had to refute the war rumors. On November 1, China’s Commerce Ministry inadvertently sparked panic and gossip about military action after urging citizens to stock up on vegetables, rice, noodles, cooking oil and other necessities. the state-owned company Economic Newspaper newspaper later clarified that the advice was based on the likelihood of another COVID-19 lockdown, but the phenomenon highlighted the dangers of brewing nationalism in a closed information environment.
Relations between the straits have accelerated in recent years, coinciding with an increase in political and military tensions between Beijing and Washington. Vocal support for Taiwan by the United States has fueled heightened animosity between Beijing and Taipei, which now sees itself as a dangerous frontline role against Chinese aggression. China says the US is using Taiwan to curtail its rising power and influence.
Defense Department Wu described the US as “addicted to” global domination.
“Those addicted to and pursuing hegemony always feel that others covet their hegemony. Some in the US have been immersed in persecution delusions for quite some time and cannot free themselves,” he said. “They insist on fabricating a nonexistent ‘Chinese military threat’ for the explicit purpose of justifying attempts to seek military supremacy and maintain global hegemony.”
Wu added: “In investigating the cause of this disease, a serious bias in the perception of China is evident, resulting in the adoption of incorrect China policies.”
At last week’s summit between President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, leaders agreed to maintain dialogue to manage their competitive relationship. Biden told Xi that Washington and Beijing needed to put up “common sense guardrails” to prevent the tensions from turning into an unintended conflict.
However, Wu suggested that Biden’s crash barriers would only work if the US agreed to China’s stance on Taiwan.
“China appreciates the development of relations between our two armies and is ready to maintain exchanges and communications with the US,” he said. “But the US has for some time made many irresponsible comments about Taiwan, the South China Sea and the close reconnaissance of its ships and planes; and has done many provocative things. China must of course counter this in a mutual and determined way.”
He concluded: “We have often said that the principles for developing relations between our two armies are that China’s sovereignty, dignity and core interests should not be violated. Especially on the Taiwan issue, China has no room for compromise, and the US should have no illusions.”