BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:55 A.M.) – In a war of words, two prominent Chinese officials hinted that their country might launch a military attack on Taiwan if it had no other choice to prevent its independence.

According to the Reuters News agency, Li Zucheng, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Chinese Central Military Council, said in a speech Friday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, during a seminar marking the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the “Anti-Secession Law”, that the door is still open to a military operation against Taiwan.

He said: “If you lose the opportunity for peaceful reunification, the armed forces of the people with all the country, including the residents of Taiwan, will take all necessary steps in order to thwart any decisive plans and separatist steps.”

He continued, “We do not pledge to avoid the use of force, and we reserve the right to use all required measures in order to ensure stability and control of the situation in the Taiwan Strait.”

Li Chanshu, the third most senior official of the ruling Communist Party, stressed that resorting to “non-peaceful means” toward Taiwan is a last option, vowing to “redouble efforts 100 times as long as they remain there. The least chance of implementing a peace settlement.”

“The path of Taiwan independence leads to a dead end, and any challenge to this law will face severe punishment,” he said, addressing the forces supporting Taiwan independence.

The “Anti-Secession Law” passed in 2005 provides the Chinese state with a legal basis for military action against Taiwan in the event of the latter’s secession or approaching the implementation of this goal.

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Taiwan has been outside the control of the Chinese government since the country’s civil war ended in 1949.

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