Belgium, (Brussels Morning newspaper) China’s new ambassador to the EU has held out a possible olive branch to Taiwan, saying Beijing wants to avoid any possible conflict.
But Fu Cong, the new head of Mission of the Chinese Mission to the EU, also pointedly warned that his country refuses to rule out military action if it was deemed necessary.
China considers self-ruled Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to place it under its control, by force if necessary.
The official policy was endorsed, as expected, by the new ambassador, who was addressing a briefing for businessmen and women, organized by the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) in Brussels on Thursday.
He was asked about a recent opinion poll which reportedly showed that only 7 percent of people in Taiwan favored reunification with the mainland.
Specifically, he was questioned about how China could “legitimately” consider using force in the event of an escalation in the long-running sovereignty dispute with Taiwan.
The ambassador, in office since last autumn, replied by saying he had not seen the survey but that the future of the island “must be made by the entire population of China.”
This, he said, was “because Taiwan is part of China.”
He also added that he could “guarantee” that “99.9 percent” of mainland Chinese were in favor of reunification. It was for this reason that the use of force or the “military option” could not be ruled out, he insisted.
He added, however, that “China will do its utmost to unite the country peacefully.”
He explained the circumstances under which force might be used, adding that this could happen in the event of Taiwan “moving for formal independence” and/or “outside interference from a third party.”
He added, “Let me say today that there will be no war without such interference in Taiwan’s affairs by outside forces.”
If there was any such “interference” he said it would be “logical” for the use of force to be considered.
Asked if any military option might then lead to western sanctions against China he replied, “If that happens – sanctions – then we will gladly pay that price but nothing will deter us from maintaining the unity of China.”
The diplomat also made a point of criticizing the United States, accusing it of “provoking” China over the disputed Taiwan issue.
In a particularly open and frank debate, he said that if there had been any recent rising in tensions this was the fault of such “provocation”, adding, “if there was no provocation there would be no escalation.”
He warned, “People need to be careful. If you cannot keep pushing the envelope because, if you do, the envelope might explode.”
The ambassador also spoke about boosting economic and trade ties between the EU and China, saying the business community could provide a “platform” for this. He also said China had been “grateful” to the EU and others for the support it received in tackling the pandemic.
In an opening address, Erik Famaey, a Flemish board member of the BCECC, which seeks to promote economic ties between China and Belgium told the debate that the comments by the new head of mission were timely as they came soon after President Xi Jinping was recently re-elected for what he called an “unprecedented” third term.
The diplomat previously served as Deputy Permanent Representative and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for the Disarmament Affairs of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations Office in Geneva and was later appointed Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
This website sought the views of Taiwan by way of response to the ambassador’s comments.
Responding, Remus Li-Kuo Chen, Representative at the Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium, said the armed conflict “is not an option.”
The Brussels-based ambassador, in office since October 2022, said, “Taiwan has never, for even a single day, been ruled by the People’s Republic of China. Both sides of the Strait must accept the objective truth that neither side is subordinate to the other.
“Taiwan is committed to preserving the status quo and upholding the fact that only the Taiwanese can determine the future of Taiwan.”
He said, “Armed confrontation is absolutely not an option for our two sides. Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom, can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait.”
He added,” Provided there is rationality, equality, and mutual respect, we are willing to work with the Beijing authorities to find a mutually agreeable arrangement for upholding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
“This is our shared responsibility.”