The Chinese defence minister said on Thursday the country will thwart the push for Taiwan's independence "at any cost". The comment reaffirms China's intent to eventually annex the self-ruled island despite growing calls for independence in Taiwan, bolstered by the support by the Trump administration in the US.
China was angered after two US warships -- guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam and missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur -- sailed through the Taiwan Strait despite protests from China.
"The Taiwan issue is related to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and touches upon China's core interests ... On this issue, it is extremely dangerous to repeatedly challenge China's bottom line. If someone tries to separate out Taiwan (from China), China's army will take the necessary actions at any cost," Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said in stern comments, according to the Channel News Asia.
The US move had come two days after Taiwanese capital Taipei witnessed the largest ever pro-independence rally in the island nation's history.
Almost a hundred thousand independence campaigners trooped out into the capital's streets demanding an Independence referendum.
With the demand of outright independence growing in Taiwan, a restless China saw the US warship campaign in the Strait as an escalation.
The Taiwan issue became more vexed after the recent leadership changes in the US and Taiwan. While President Donald Trump has been a brash supporter of Taiwan, the island nation elected Tsai Ing-wen, a known campaigner for independence and democracy.
China considers self-ruling Taiwan as a renegade province and hasn't stood down on the possibility of using force to annex the island.
The US recognized the People's Republic of China and started diplomatic relations with Beijing in the early 1970s, but continued cordial unofficial relations with Taiwan.
War ships in the Strait
Immediately after he won the US elections, Trump spoke to Tsai, surprising the diplomatic world.
It was a big break with tradition and was seen as a move that could jeopardize the opening gambit in the new president's ties with China. No US president or president-elect has held official talks with a Taiwanese leader since Washington adopted the One-China policy in 1979.
The Chinese foreign ministry said earlier this week it had communicated serious conkers to the US following the sailing of war ships in the Strait.
However, Trump brushed aside any Chinese concerns saying the decision was his and his generals.
"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific ... The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows," Trump said.