The United States continues to conduct naval patrols in waters claimed by China. Last week, the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam sailed through the Taiwan Strait: the sixth such transit this year. The operation came as China issued an important policy document.
China releases a strategic military review every four years, and the 2019 white paper is being given particular significance ahead of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic on October 1st.
“China’s National Defense in the New Era” paints the People’s Liberation Army as a “staunch force for world peace.”
While critics describe China as ruthlessly expanding its power, the document justifies the militarization of Chinese bases in the South China Sea and sees the country beset by foreign-inspired independence movements in Tibet, Xinjiang and, in particular, in Taiwan.
The paper accused Taiwan of “stepping up efforts to sever the connection to the mainland in favor of gradual independence.” The white paper states “full reunification of the country is in the fundamental interest of the Chinese nation.”
“We make no promise to renounce the use of force,” the paper adds, “and reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.”
The paper also extended the military’s mission to protect the security of “overseas Chinese people, organizations and institutions.”
While much of the document focuses on military modernization and reiterates well known policies, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post summarized a new tone: “Co-operation is out in favor of antagonism and complaint,” it said.