China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said anti-China elements in foreign countries were ‘playing with fire’ on the issue of Taiwan’s independence.

China has renewed its longstanding threat to attack Taiwan and warned that foreign politicians who interact with the self-governing island are “playing with fire”.

A spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that Beijing was recommitted in the new year to “safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity” and “smashing plots for Taiwan independence”.

“The malicious support for Taiwan independence among anti-China elements in a few foreign countries are a deliberate provocation,” the spokesperson, Ma Xiaoguang, said

“We call on the relevant countries to … cease sending the wrong signals to Taiwan independence separatist forces and cease playing with fire on the question of Taiwan,” Ma said.

China views Taiwan – a self-governing democracy that separated from mainland China in 1949 – as Chinese territory that must be brought under Beijing’s control, and by force if necessary.

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper tweeted the Taiwan Affairs Office warning that Taiwan’s “‘secession’ is doomed to fail” and that Taiwan’s independence “is an act waiting to be punished”.