China’s Xi vows ‘reunification’ with Taiwan, but holds off threatening force

0
283

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.

Taiwan responded shortly after by calling on Beijing to abandon its coercion, reiterating that only Taiwan’s people could decide their future.

Democratically ruled Taiwan has come under increased military and political pressure from Beijing to accept its sovereignty, but Taipei has pledged to defend its freedom.

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.”

He struck a slightly softer tone than in July, his last major speech mentioning Taiwan, in which he vowed to “smash” any attempts at formal independence. In 2019, he directly threatened to use force to bring the island under Beijing’s control.