January 25, 2018 / 10:47 AM / 24 days ago

China says has goodwill towards Taiwan, but won't allow separation

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is willing to show utmost goodwill towards self-ruled Taiwan but won’t allow its separation from China, the country’s defence ministry said on Thursday after Taiwan’s president said she does not rule out the possibility of a Chinese attack.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said this week she does not exclude the possibility of China attacking them, amid heightened tensions between the two sides including an increasing number of Chinese military drills near Taiwan.

Beijing has taken an increasingly hostile stance towards Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province, since the election two years ago of Tsai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though she has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

Asked about Tsai’s attack remarks, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said China is willing to show the greatest amount of goodwill to seek “peaceful reunification”.

“But we will certainly will not allow Taiwan to separate from the motherland,” Wu told a regular monthly news briefing.

In recent months, China has stepped up military drills around Taiwan, alarming Taipei. China says the exercises are routine.

The Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning has this month sailed twice through the Taiwan Strait, the narrow stretch of water separating the two sides.

Wu said a carrier group led by the Liaoning had recently conducted training in accordance with an annual training schedule, to test the performance of equipment. He give no other details.

China considers proudly democratic Taiwan to be its sacred territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie

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