The Chinese government on Wednesday warned that the country would take “drastic measures” if Taiwan took steps towards attaining formal independence, Reuters reported.

China sees Taiwan, which is a self-governed territory, as a province that is to be unified with the Chinese mainland.

At a media briefing on Wednesday, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that the country sought a peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

“If separatist forces in Taiwan seeking independence provoke, exert force or even break through any red line, we will have to take drastic measures,” Ma warned.

The spokesperson added that “provocations and outside meddling” for Taiwan’s independence could intensify in 2022.

The comments came a month after Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his United States counterpart Joe Biden that encouraging independence of Taiwan would be like “playing with fire”.

Taiwan has been one of the most contentious matters in bilateral relationship between the United States and China. Washington is Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier, even as the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Taiwanese Mainland Affairs Council also urged Beijing to “seriously reflect on its work towards Taiwan and make correct judgement on the situation”.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the council asserted that it has maintained its policy to safeguard peace across the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from the mainland Chinese territory.