China's defence minister says resolving 'Taiwan question' is greatest national interest

BEIJING, Oct 21 (Reuters) - The Chinese defence minister said on Monday that resolving the "Taiwan question" is China's greatest national interest, and that no force can prevent China's "reunification".

Separatist activities are doomed to failure, Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said at the opening in Beijing of the Xiangshan Forum, which China styles as its answer to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore.

Tensions between China and Taiwan have ratcheted up ahead of a presidential election on the island in January. Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial issue.

Proudly democratic Taiwan has lambasted China for its authoritarian rule and for being a threat to regional peace, while China has heaped pressure on Taiwan, whittling away at its few remaining diplomatic allies.

China regards Taiwan as its sacred territory, to be brought under Beijing's rule, by force if needed, a message President Xi Jinping reiterated at the start of this year.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a civil war with the Communists. The People's Republic of China has never governed Taiwan, whose people have shown no interest in being run by autocratic Beijing. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Tom Hogue)