Washington: In a defiant message in the face of the Chinese military threat, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Monday said China cannot dictate to the self-ruled island who they should welcome and who they should not.

In an interview with CNN, Joseph Wu said China’s threat is “more serious than ever,” but the island will stand firm to protect its freedom and democracy.

“China has always been threatening Taiwan for years and it’s getting more serious in the last few years,” Wu said. “Whether Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan or not, the Chinese military threat against Taiwan has always been there and that is the fact that we need to deal with.”

“(China) cannot dictate to Taiwan that we should not welcome anyone who likes to come and show support for Taiwan,” said Wu.

Taiwan last week welcomed the visit of the US Congressional delegation, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and said this visit “once again emphasizes the rock-solid US commitment to Taiwan.”

This high-stakes visit marked the first visit by a US House Speaker in 25 years since Newt Gingrich came to Taiwan in April 1997. It was also Speaker Pelosi’s first trip to Taiwan in over two decades.

In the wake of Pelosi’s trip, China started conducting a number of military exercises near Taiwan which Beijing regards as its breakaway province.

More than 100 Chinese warplanes and 10 warships have taken part in the live-fire military drills surrounding Taiwan over the last few days. Multiple Chinese planes and ships were detected around Taiwan Strait, simulating an attack on its main island.

Wu said that he worries that China may really launch a war against Taiwan. “But what it is doing right now is trying to scare us and the best way to deal with it (is) to show to China that we are not scared.”

Last week, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started conducting joint drills in at least six areas around the island, which was slated to end on Sunday. But the Chinese military today said it will continue drills near Taiwan focused on anti-submarine and air-to-ship strikes.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister said he is not sure whether the leadership in Beijing “have made up their mind” to use force to take Taiwan.

“The important thing for us is that we need to be prepared,” he said in the CNN interview. “We want to defend the freedom and democracy that we enjoy over here. Nobody can take that away from us.”

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