China threat: MP’s dire warning as he fears showdown ‘The gloves are off’

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I think the gloves have come off

Tobias Ellwood MP

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of Parliament’s Defence Select Committee, was speaking the day after Beijing ordered the United States to cease all communications with Taiwan, further raising tensions in the region still further. He told Express.co.uk: “I think the gloves have come off.

“I think it is very clear now that China is not maturing into this responsible, global stakeholder that we hoped they would be.”

Mr Ellwood, who is also a member of Parliament’s China Research Group, added: “They are now an economic powerhouse following their own rules.

“What we saw in Hong Kong is just a wake-up call for what we should anticipate happening in Taiwan if we ignore their advances.”

Earlier this week, the United States said it was establishing a new bilateral economic dialogue with Taiwan aimed at strengthening ties with Taipei and supporting it in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing.

Washington said it had also declassified six Reagan-era security assurances given to Taiwan, a move widely interpreted as being aimed at demonstrating solidarity with the island.

The announcements come at a time of increasingly belligerent Chinese rhetoric in relation to Taiwan, with relations between Washington and Beijing at a low ebb.

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Also speaking this week, David Stilwell, the State Department’s top diplomat for East Asia, said: “We will continue to help Taipei resist the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to pressure, intimidate, and marginalise Taiwan.”

China also took a dim view of the recent visit by US health chief Alex Azar.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said nobody should underestimate China’s resolve to defend its sovereignty, and urged the United States to stop elevating its relations with Taiwan.

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She also urged US President Donald Trump to abide by the one-China principle, referring to the doctrine than Taiwan and Hong Kong are part of China’s territory.

She told reporters yesterday: “The one-China principle is the political basis and fundamental precondition for the establishment and development of China-US diplomatic ties.

“We urge the United States to abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiques, to stop lifting its substantial relationship with Taiwan and to cease any forms of official contact with Taiwan, so as not stray further down an erroneous path.”

Milos Vystrcil, speaker of the Czech Republic’s Senate, further riled Beijing yesterday during his visit to Taiwan by invoking the spirit of former US President John Kennedy, who famously declared: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

Addressing Taiwan’s parliament, Mr Vystrcil, who is leading a delegation of about 90 politicians and business executives, said: “Please let me also express in person my support to Taiwan and the ultimate value of freedom and conclude today’s speech with perhaps a more humble, but equally strong statement: ‘I am a Taiwanese’.”

Meanwhile, a Pentagon report yesterday suggested China would double its arsenal of nuclear weapons by the end of the decade.

Analysts also believe Beijing is close to completing the nuclear triad, whereby it will be able to launch nuclear weapons by land, air and sea.

Up to now, the nation has only been able to deploy the latter two methods – but it is now developing a nuclear capable air-launched ballistic missile.

Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, told reporters: “We’re certainly concerned about the numbers but also just the trajectory of China’s nuclear developments writ large.”

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