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After China said earlier in the week that it will conduct military exercises in the South China Sea, just days after Beijing bristled at a US aircraft carrier group’s entry into the disputed waters, the nation has now toughened its language towards Taiwan.

Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, reported multiple Chinese fighter jets and bombers entering its southwestern air defence identification zone last weekend, prompting Washington to urge Beijing to stop pressuring Taiwan, Reuters reports.

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian states that “the military activities carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait are necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security.

“They are a solemn response to external interference and provocations by ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” he added.

Wu said a “handful” of people in Taiwan were seeking the island’s independence.

“We warn those ‘Taiwan independence’ elements: those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war,” he added.

Meanwhile, the nation has complained that the United States frequently sends aircraft and vessels into the South China Sea, through which trillion dollars in trade flow every year, to “flex its muscles”.

This was in response to the US carrier group  led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt that had entered the South China Sea on Saturday, a move of which is said to promote “freedom of the seas,” the US military said.

Markets are keeping an eye on the developments but there are hopes in efforts in a new US administration under Joe Biden. 

A former Chinese vice-premier urged the newly inaugurated United States President Joe Biden to “meet China halfway” to rebuild trust and restart dialogue to ease the “unprecedented predicament” of strained relations between the major powers.

Additionally, Zeng Peiyan, who served as vice-premier from 2003 to 2008 before becoming a top economic policy adviser in Beijing, spoke at the Hong Kong forum “US-China Relations: The Way Forward” on Tuesday and said that the two sides needed to work to abolish trade tariffs.