A senior Chinese diplomat has warned that Beijing will “re-educate” the people of Taiwan after it has “reunited” the island with the mainland.
Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to France, made the threat came after Nancy Pelosi, the US House of Representatives Speaker, arrived in Taipei for a controversial visit. Shortly after she left, Beijing launched four days of military drills in the waters and airspace around Taiwan.
Speaking to the French station BFMTV on Wednesday, Mr Lu described Ms Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan as an “unnecessary provocation”, which had “created a lot of danger”.
“Madame Pelosi is second in line to the US President. Her visit is obviously not an unofficial visit,” he said. The US’s support for Taiwan riles China, as it considers the self-governed island as part of its territory.
Hinting at the possibility of an invasion of Taiwan, Mr Lu said: “After reunification, we will do re-education.”
His comment mirrored the language the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has used to describe its treatment of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
Countries including the US have labelled Beijing’s programme of mass incarceration and sterilisation in the northwest province as genocide, an accusation fiercely denied by China.
In a display of military might, China began large-scale military drills in six areas off the coast of Taiwan on Thursday in response to Ms Pelosi’s visit. Beijing justified the live-fire exercises as a “punishment of pro-Taiwan independence diehards”.
Taiwan’s leadership hit out at what it called China’s “”irresponsible, illegitimate behaviour” in some of the busiest international waters, adding that it was “preparing for war without seeking war”.
A Taiwanese source told Reuters that Chinese ships and aircraft briefly crossed into Taiwan’s waters and airspace on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Ms Pelosi, the most senior American to visit Taipei in 25 years, praised Taiwan’s democracy amid rising tensions with China.
“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan,” she told the Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.
“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, and that’s the message we are bringing,” she added.