China's military vowed on Friday to “crush” any efforts for Taiwan's independence on the eve of a crucial presidential election on the island, which Beijing says is part of its territory.
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“The Chinese People's Liberation Army maintains high vigilance at all times and will take all necessary measures to resolutely suppress attempts at 'Taiwan independence' in any form,” Defense Ministry spokesman Zhang Xiaogang said in a press release.
He accused Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party of pushing the island “into dangerous war conditions” by buying weapons from the United States.
Taiwan, a territory of 23 million people hailed as a model of democracy in Asia, lies just 180 kilometers from the coast of communist China, which sees it as one of its provinces, forcibly connecting it to the rest of the country as necessary.
Saturday's vote will be closely watched by Beijing, Washington and markets, with Taiwan – the world's leading producer of semiconductors – also a key economic player.
All week, Beijing has increased its diplomatic and military pressure on the island. According to the Taiwanese Defense Ministry, five Chinese balloons again crossed the median line separating the archipelago from China on Thursday, also detecting 10 aircraft and six warships.