Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen | Chinese President Xi Jinping Photograph:( AFP )
"China was willing to try...to seek peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but would act if [matters escalate],” the official said. China lays claim to Taiwanese territory and considers it a breakaway province.
A Beijing official warned on Wednesday that if Taiwan advances toward formal independence, China will take "severe measures," adding that Taiwan's provocations and outside meddling could worsen next year.
China claims democratically controlled Taiwan as its own territory and has increased military and diplomatic pressure in the last two years to bolster its claim, causing outrage in Taipei and anxiety in Washington.
At a media conference, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, told a media conference that China was eager to do all possible to achieve peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but that if any red lines on independence were crossed, China would respond.
"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 said.
Late Wednesday, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council issued a statement urging Beijing to "seriously reflect on its work toward Taiwan and make an accurate judgement on the situation."
To sustain peace across the Taiwan Strait and in the area, the Council underlined its appeal for equal discussion and stated that it has maintained a policy of "not provoking."
Despite the lack of official diplomatic connections, Taiwan has emerged as a crucial component in difficult relations between Taiwan and the United States, the island's most important international backer and arms supplier.
Taiwan declares independence and pledges to safeguard its freedom and democracy.
China frequently refers to the island as the most sensitive subject in its relationship with the US.
Ma believes provocation by pro-independence forces and "foreign involvement" will become "sharper and more intense." in the next few months.
"Next year, the Taiwan Strait situation will become more complex and severe," he said.
Beijing has sent repeated air missions over the Taiwan Strait in recent months to pressure Taiwan. It has said it will not give in to threats.
While the United States recognises only one China, it is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and has long followed a policy of "strategic ambiguity" on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
The defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the Communists, who established the People`s Republic of China.
(With inputs from agencies)