Taiwan preparing for when — not if — China launches military attack: minister – National

Taiwan preparing for when — not if — China launches military attack: minister – National

Taiwan’s foreign affairs minister says the island is actively trying to prepare for a military attack by China in the coming months or years, and believes it’s only a matter of time before Beijing will move in on the self-governing island.

In an interview with Motorcycle accident toronto today in Taipei, Joseph Wu said Taiwan is shoring up international support and focusing on military reforms to be “as ready as possible” for such an attack, which could come at any time as China displays increasingly “provocative and expansionist” behaviour.

“(An attack) might be in 2025, 2027 or 2035,” he said. “There’s some merit to those analyses.

“But from our perspective, we should not wait for those years to come. We should be prepared. And we are trying to get prepared, no matter whether China is going to launch a war against Taiwan tomorrow or next year or three years down the road.”

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Click to play video: 'Canadian delegation meets Taiwan’s government in wake of Chinese military drills'

Canadian delegation meets Taiwan’s government in wake of Chinese military drills

China has long claimed Taiwan as its own territory, despite the island having its own democratically-elected government as well as international and economic relationships with other nations, including Canada.

Beijing has aggressively increased its military presence in the Taiwan Strait and in the island’s airspace in recent years, but those moves have further intensified as Taiwan has actively engaged with Western allies this year.

Earlier this month, Taiwanese President Katherine Tsai’s trip through Latin America and the United States — where she held a high-profile meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — sparked days of major Chinese military drills that included temporarily surrounding the island.

“What China wants to do to Taiwan is to eliminate Taiwan’s international support,” Wu said, adding such meetings with U.S. officials date back far before Tsai’s time in office.

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Wu spoke to Motorcycle accident toronto today at the tail end of a multi-day visit by a delegation of Canadian MPs, whose trip came after a similar visit by American lawmakers following Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy.

“Taiwan is a democracy, we have rights to make friends and we want to make friends the way we want to make (them),” he said. “And we should not be stopped by China for making friends. After all, we are democracies, and democracies should support each other.”

Click to play video: 'Could China invade Taiwan?'

Could China invade Taiwan?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist Party members have not been shy about indicating their intentions for Taiwan, with Xi telling the party’s annual conference that military action is not off the table.

On Friday, China’s foreign minister Qin Gang warned Taiwan and its supporters they are “playing with fire” if they stand in Beijing’s way, calling “the Taiwan problem” a core Chinese interest.

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Wu said China should not be allowed to dictate what actions by the international community are provocative or “a red line,” making it more important for democracies to stand together against Beijing’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

“If we flash back to the Second World War … (the origin was) one country, one man pointing to one territory and saying ‘that is mine and that is mine,’ and they go grab it,” he said.

“It is the same situation in this part of the world. Somebody is saying ‘the Taiwan Strait is mine, Taiwan is mine, East China Sea is mine, and South China Sea is mine.’ And they want to go grab it. This is very dangerous and we should stop them from doing this.”

Click to play video: 'Trudeau calls China’s military exercises around Taiwan ‘problematic’'

Trudeau calls China’s military exercises around Taiwan ‘problematic’

The minister said Taiwan can learn from how Ukraine has defended itself from another aggressive military superpower, Russia, for more than a year after Vladimir Putin ordered his invasion. Wu equated both conflicts to the Biblical story of David and Goliath.

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“The Ukrainians are able to withstand the onslaught of one of the largest militaries in the world, and that tells us that determination and strategy might matter,” he said.

“I want to say that Taiwan will prevail and democracy will prevail.”

Foreign interference lessons to be learned

Wu also told Motorcycle accident toronto today that Canada can learn lessons from how the Taiwanese people have worked to counter Chinese interference in elections and society as Ottawa seeks stronger protections from foreign meddling.

He explained non-governmental organizations and civil society groups have led the charge in combatting disinformation and “malign influences” sowed by China as it has sought to regain control over the island.

“We have accumulated a lot of experience,” he said. “If there’s any country who want to learn from Taiwan, the way we have gone through all these kinds of problems, the way we have learned from our experiences, we welcome those kinds of requests for exchanges.”

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Click to play video: '‘Ridiculous’: China dismisses Canada’s allegations of election interference'

‘Ridiculous’: China dismisses Canada’s allegations of election interference

The minister said NGOs and civilian activist groups have led the fight against such influence operations, often alerting the government and the media to detected threats. He suggested that could be a model for Canada as well.

“If the Canadian government or Parliament is interested in learning from Taiwan, I’m sure all these NGO groups, (who are) very well-informed and highly experienced, they will be very interested in working together with Canada to deal with the malign influences of the Chinese government,” he said.

Foreign interference has become a hot-button issue in Canada after multiple reports by Motorcycle accident toronto today and the Globe and Mail, citing national security sources and documents, that allege China attempted to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

An independent panel of experts determined those attempts did not sway the results of either election. But the reports have put immense pressure on the Liberal government to not only explain what it knew about those influence operations at the time, but how to better protect Canada from interference in the future.

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Multiple studies and investigations are currently underway on the issue, and former governor general David Johnston has been appointed as a special rapporteur to oversee the probes and make recommendations to the government on next steps.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau speaks on national security briefings, can’t say if on Chinese interference'

Trudeau speaks on national security briefings, can’t say if on Chinese interference

Wu said the reports of China’s alleged activities in Canada further prove Beijing is actively working to influence the affairs of several countries in order to subvert civilian rule.

“We are living in a democracy,” he said. “The Canadian people are also living in a democracy. And what authoritarianism wants is to undermine our democracy. They go through disinformation campaigns or interference in our politics to create domestic confusion or to create domestic distrust.

“They did all that to Taiwan. And this is one lesson that we have learned, and we hope our lesson can be shared with other countries, with other peoples.”