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China Cautions US Against 'playing With Fire' Over Taiwan VP's Stopover In New York

Days after China called Taiwanese VP William Lei a “troublemaker”, Defence Minister Li Shangfu warned that the US is “playing with fire” in regard to Taiwan.

| Written By
Bhagyasree Sengupta

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Taiwanese Vice President William Lai and US President Joe Biden (Image: AP)

Days after China called Taiwanese Vice President William Lai a “troublemaker”, Defence Minister Li Shangfu warned that the US is “playing with fire” in regards to Taiwan. The remarks from the Chinese Defence Minister came on Tuesday after Lai made a brief stopover to the United States during his trip to Paraguay. In a scathing attack against Washington, the Chinese official warned that any attempt to use Taiwan to “contain China” will end in failure. The island regions growing tensions with China have been one of the major factors in the declining relations between Washington and Beijing. 

"The reunification of China is an inevitable historical trend. Playing with fire on the Taiwan question,”  Shangfu asserted during his address at the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security. The country’s defence minister reiterated that Taiwan's question is an internal matter that does not warrant external interference. “Attempting to 'contain China with Taiwan' will undoubtedly end in failure," he stressed. On the sidelines of the conference, Shangfu held talks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. Both leaders pledged to strengthen military cooperation, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Shortly after Lai landed in New York, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement: “Lai stubbornly adheres to the separatist position of Taiwan independence and is a troublemaker through and through." The visit by the  Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader becomes pivotal since Lai is touted as one of the frontrunners in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential elections. 

Taiwan maintains resilience

During his transit to the United States, the Taiwanese vice president said that the island region will not “back down” in the face of growing threats from China. “When Taiwan is safe, the world is safe, and when there is peace on the Taiwan Strait, there will be world peace,” Lai said in a speech to the supporters at a lunch banquet in New York, CNN reported. This visit came just months after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen paid a brief visit to the United States where she met US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. “No matter how great the threat of authoritarianism is to Taiwan, we absolutely will not be scared nor cower, we will uphold the values of democracy and freedom,” he added. 

On Tuesday, Lai headed to Paraguay where he will attend the inauguration of the country’s new president. The South American nation is one of the only 13 states that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and do not adhere to Beijing’s “One China Policy”. Earlier this year, Honduras became one of the latest countries to break its formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan to establish relations with China.

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