China underscored its commitment to its claim on Taiwan on Saturday, telling assembled world leaders that anyone who gets in the way of its goal to reunify with the self-governing island would be “crushed by the wheels of history.”
The language was forceful but, for Chinese leadership, well within the realm of normal.
“Only when China is fully reunified can there be true peace across the Taiwan Strait,” Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, said at the UN General Assembly. He said Beijing would “take the most forceful steps to oppose external interference.”
China regularly and vehemently defends its claim to Taiwan, which separated from the mainland after a 1949 civil war and now functions with its own government. A visit last month by the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, markedly ratcheted up tensions between Washington and Beijing.
The language, while pointed, reflected China’s typical intensity about the island; its claim seldom goes unmentioned in major international speeches. Taiwan is a core issue of Chinese policy, but Wang’s appearance at the meeting — instead of his boss, Chinese President Xi Jinping — was a signal that the speech was not necessarily a significant one.
“The [People’s Republic of China] government is the sole government representing all of China,” Wang said. “The one-China principle has become a basic norm in international relations.”
He added, “Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history.”
China exercises regular pressure worldwide on any entity that even implies Taiwan might be a separate nation. At the Olympics, for example, Taiwan must compete as “Chinese Taipei.” The mainland government’s muscle has isolated the Taiwanese government, though a few UN members continue to have diplomatic relations with Taipei rather than Beijing.
On Saturday at the UN meeting, just a few speakers before Wang, the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, spoke forcefully about allowing Taiwan to raise its profile in international organizations, including the World Health Organization.
“How can we stand askance, in relative silence and contented inaction, in disregard of Taiwan’s legitimate right to exist in accord with the wishes and will of the Taiwanese people?” he asked.
Wang’s appearance at the 2022 in-person edition of the UN General Assembly came after two years of remote speeches by China’s leader. Xi did not attend this year’s event, which Russian President Vladimir Putin also skipped. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke on Wednesday.
The United States and China have an uneasy relationship and are at odds over many core issues. They have sparred for decades over human rights, most recently the mistreatment of ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of western China. Beijing views U.S. criticism as hypocritical and an interference in its internal affairs.
This is always reflected in remarks from China’s leadership. Wang used lightly coded phrases and references to critique Washington. For example, Wang said, “We stand firmly against attempts to politicize human rights,” and “We must uphold equity and oppose bullying.”
While Taiwan and human rights perennially stand in the way of U.S.-Chinese relations, Wang and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken did meet in person on Friday.
U.S. officials said Blinken pressed China to end provocative actions against Taiwan. China’s Foreign Ministry, in a summary of the meeting, said Wang told his counterpart that “the current China-U.S. relations are facing grave impacts, and there are lessons that the U.S. side needs to learn from.”
It said the two discussed “the U.S. side’s recent erroneous acts on the Taiwan question.” However, it also said, “Both sides believe that the meeting was candid, constructive and important, and agreed to maintain communication.”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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