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President Putin on Taiwan: ‘China does not need to use force’

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the Russian Energy Week International Forum in Moscow on October 13, 2021.

Mikhail Metzel | AFP | Getty Images

China “does not need to use force” in order to achieve its desired “reunification” with Taiwan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping last week vowed to realize his aim of bringing the democratically run island nation of 24 million people under Beijing’s control by peaceful means, following a week of simmering tensions in the region.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, while Taiwan sees itself as separate from China, having ruled itself since splitting from the mainland in 1949 following a protracted civil war.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen responded in a speech Sunday, announcing that her government would invest in bolstering its military capabilities in order to “demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the Russian Energy Week conference in Moscow Wednesday, Putin pointed to Xi’s comments suggesting the possibility of a peaceful unification, and China’s “philosophy of statehood,” to suggest that there is no threat of military confrontation.

“I think China does not need to use force. China is a huge powerful economy, and in terms of purchasing parity, China is the economy number one in the world ahead of the United States now,” the Russian president said, according to a translation.

“By increasing this economic potential, China is capable of implementing its national objectives. I do not see any threats.”

Putin also addressed tense relations over the South China Sea, where Russia has tried to maintain a neutral stance toward China’s long-standing and internationally repudiated claim to vast swathes of nearby waters.

“As for the South China Sea, yes, there are some conflicting and contradictory interests but the position of Russia is based on the fact that we need to provide an opportunity for all countries in the region, without interference from the non-regional powers, to have a proper conversation based on the fundamental norms of international law,” he said.

“It should be a process of negotiations, that’s how we should resolve any arguments, and I believe there is a potential for that, but it has not been fully used so far.”

Clarification: This article has been updated to more accurately reflect that Taiwan sees itself as separate from China, having been in self-rule since the split from the mainland in 1949.

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