A retired PLA general has called on mainland forces to begin practising to retake Taiwan, comments Taiwanese analysts said were meant to put more pressure on the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen.
Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing military area command, said the People’s Liberation Army Navy should step up naval training to seal off the Taiwan Strait, and map out the best routes for its submarines to prepare for attacks.
In an online comment published by the hawkish Beijing-based Global Times website on Friday, Wang suggested the PLA Air Force should also conduct air attack drills near the virtual mid-line that divides the strait.
“In the event of cross-strait tensions, PLA warplanes could immediately fly into Taiwanese airspace and start their attacks,” he said.
Wang called on the PLA to stage live-fire drills on an uninhabited island near Pingtan – just opposite Taiwan’s outlying island of Quemoy. “During wartime, all the PLA would need to do is to turn its weapons towards Taiwan and the shelling could cover as far as Hsinchu, Taoyuan and even Taipei in Taiwan,” he said.
Wang said the PLA must step up its tactical and combat readiness to attack now that Tsai had “revealed her staunch advocacy of Taiwanese independence”.
Citing Tsai’s refusal to accept the “1992 consensus” and its “one China” principle, and her recent call to “resist China’s pressure”, as well as her nomination of pro-independence candidates to serve as the head of the judiciary and on the Council of Grand Justices, Wang said Tsai had rejected the mainland’s goodwill and was determined to support independence for the island.
Tsai, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, took power from the mainland-friendly Kuomintang to become the island’s president in May. She has since refused to explicitly acknowledge the consensus – an understanding supported by former president Ma Ying- jeou. The consensus is a tacit understanding that both sides recognise there is only one China, though each can have its own interpretation of what that China stands for. Beijing insists it must be the political foundation for continued cross-strait talks.
It is not the first time Wang has made hawkish comments about retaking Taiwan.
He made similar remarks in April last year and March this year, detailing how the PLA should attack and defeat Taiwan, including using guided missiles to attack airbases in Taiwan’s central mountain range, and shelling the central Choshui River region to sever the link between northern and southern Taiwan.
Taiwanese military experts said Wang’s comments aimed to increase pressure on the government and warn the pro-independence camp on the island.
Lin Chong-pin, Taiwan’s former deputy defence minister, said such remarks were “pyschological warfare, aimed at menacing”.
A Taiwan defence ministry official said: “We have no comment about this, and the military here has full confidence in safeguarding our people and the nation.”