TAIPEI: A Chinese blockade of Taiwan or the seizure of an offshore island would be considered an act of war and Taiwan would not surrender, a senior Taiwanese security official told Reuters using unusually strong and direct language.
While Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and others in her administration have repeatedly said that while they want peace they would defend themselves if attacked, the details of what Taiwan would consider an attack warranting a response have generally been left unsaid, given the many scenarios.
Chinese military action might not be as straightforward as a full frontal assault on Taiwan: it could include actions like a blockade to try to force Taiwan to accept China’s rule, strategists say.
Tension between Beijing, which views Taiwan as its own territory, and Taipei have spiked since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in early August.
To show its anger, China mounted military exercises around Taiwan that included firing missiles and steps to mount a blockade. China has since then continued its military activities, though on a smaller scale.
That has focused attention in Taiwan and capitals of friendly countries, like the United States and Japan, on how any conflict with China could play out, and how Taiwan and its allies might respond.
The senior Taiwanese security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said China’s drills after the Pelosi visit had shown what might happen in case the worst came to the worst, and focused thought on how Taiwan would react.
“A blockade is an act of war; seizing an offshore island is an act of war,” the official said, adding Taipei believed Beijing was unlikely to take either of those actions at the moment.
“Their only purpose to seize (offshore islands) is to force us to negotiate or surrender. But we will not surrender or negotiate.”
Short of an outright invasion, many military strategists, and even Taiwan’s defence ministry, have said China could try and seize one of Taiwan’s offshore islands, like the Kinmen and Matsu archipelagos, just off China’s coast.
“Those are military actions. There is no room for ambiguity,” the official said.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.