Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed on Saturday to achieve “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, and did not directly mention the use of force after a week of tensions with the Chinese-claimed island that sparked international concern.
Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Xi said the Chinese people have a “glorious tradition” of opposing separatism.
“Taiwan independence separatism is the biggest obstacle to achieving the reunification of the motherland, and the most serious hidden danger to national rejuvenation,” he said on the anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the last imperial dynasty in 1911.
Peaceful “reunification” best meets the overall interests of the Taiwanese people, but China will protect its sovereignty and unity, he added.
“No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s staunch determination, firm will, and strong ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi said. “The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled.”
In a separate statement, Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council called on Beijing to “abandon its provocative steps of intrusion, harassment and destruction” and return to talks.
China’s air force mounted four straight days of incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone from October 1, involving close to 150 aircraft, though those missions have since ended. Xi made no mention of those flights.
Taiwan officially calls itself the Republic of China, the name of the country established in 1912 after the fall of the Qing dynasty.
That government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the Communists, who set up today’s People’s Republic.
China commemorates the revolution by harking back to republican leader Sun Yat-sen’s calls for patriotism, national rejuvenation and good governance.
Xi used the speech to underscore the need for “a strong force to lead the country, and this strong force is the Chinese Communist Party”.
“Without the Chinese Communist Party, there would not be a New China, and therefore no rejuvenation of the Chinese people,” he said.