Chinese military warns US is ‘playing with fire’ and pledges to ‘crush’ Taiwan if it seeks independence

CHINA has warned the US it is “playing with fire” and pledged to “crush” Taiwan if it seeks independence.

Beijing’s sabre rattling comes as its military staged massive drills, widely believed to be simulating assault landings on Taiwan, in a bid to demonstrate its military might.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has long threatened to use force to bring it under its control.

The Chinese warning comes after a US military aircraft landed in Taiwan and the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for the island to have its observer status at the World Health Organisation restored.

"Those who play with fire will only burn themselves," Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said.

"China must and will be reunited. No one should underestimate the resolve, the will, and the ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity." 

The People’s Liberation Army has conducted a series of drills in the past years focusing on the embattled island.

According to data collected by the South China Morning Post, China has conducted 20 naval exercises in the first half of the year – while another 13 exercises were carried out in 2020.

Footage released from China’s state broadcaster CCTV shows simulations of amphibious landing, two types of drones, and launch rocket systems.

Those who play with fire will only burn themselves

The clip shows a small group of soldiers acting out missions and amphibious assault vehicles firing guns at sea.

Recent months have also seen Chinese warplanes repeatedly fly into Taiwanese airspace in a bid to intimidate the island.

Former Chinese president Chiang Kai-shek and his supporters fled to the island in 1949 following the Chinese Communist Party victory in the country's civil war.

The island of 25 million people has since developed its own democratic identity and party of current President Tsai Ing-wen supports moves towards full independence.

China vowed to invade Taiwan if it seeks independence last month, warning any move toward gaining independence would mean “war”.

Meanwhile, tensions between the UK and China could be set to rise as the Royal Navy’s biggest warship sails through the disputed South China Sea.

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China has warned Britain faces punishment for the presence of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square-mile South China Sea as its territory.

In response, the United States and its allies, including the UK, sail warships through the sea in freedom of navigation operations to challenge its claim.

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