BEIJING - An army general has warned that China will not leave the Taiwan problem "unresolved for a long time", after the island's Beijing-friendly ruling party suffered a bruising election defeat, a state-run newspaper said.
Liu Jingsong told the annual conference of the Global Times newspaper that the Chinese government would not be afraid to use force to resolve "the Taiwan issue", the Chinese-language paper reported on its website on Saturday without elaborating.
"The Taiwan issue will not remain unresolved for a long time. We will not abandon the possibility of using force; according to the law, it is also an option to resolve the issue by military means if necessary," said General Liu, a former president of the influential Chinese Academy of Military Sciences.
He retired from active service with the People's Liberation Army in 1997.
"Whoever has political power in Taiwan, the only path (for the island) is to preserve the development of peaceful relations between the two sides of the strait, and eventually to bring about reunification," the general said.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, but Beijing still claims the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification - by force if necessary.
Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) was dealt a crushing blow in local polls late last month when it lost five out of six large municipalities on the island, prompting Premier Jiang Yi-huah to resign and President Ma Ying-jeou to step down as KMT chairman.
The KMT's move to forge warmer ties with Beijing, and its perceived secrecy in forging deals with the mainland, was one of the core issues at stake in the polls, seen as foreshadowing the 2016 presidential race.
In the face of the recent shake-up in Taiwan's political landscape, China "should not fear the storm" and has formed "new judgments and countermeasures", the Global Times paraphrased Gen Liu as saying.