Vancouver Sun

Xi calls Taiwan’s return ‘inevitable’

- Nicola Smith in Taipei WeNdy taNg in Beijing

China is willing to use force to ensure the “unshakable historic task” of its complete reunificat­ion with Taiwan, Xi Jinping said Wednesday, as he warned that independen­ce for the island would bring “profound disaster.”

In one of his most significan­t addresses on Taiwan since taking power, the Chinese president told a gathering in Beijing that “China must and will be united, which is an inevitable requiremen­t for the historical rejuvenati­on of the Chinese nation in the new era.”

“China won’t attack Chinese people. We are willing to use the greatest sincerity and expend the greatest hard work to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunificat­ion,” Xi said.

But he added that China “did not promise to renounce the use of force” and would “reserve the option to use all necessary measures” to prevent independen­ce for Taiwan.

The threat was aimed at foreign forces seeking to interfere as well as advocates of Taiwanese independen­ce, the president said, in what has been perceived to be a reference to the United States, Taiwan’s strongest backer.

Xi sought to reassure the Taiwanese people that “peaceful reunificat­ion” would bring them “good and prosperous lives,” even though the majority would prefer good relations with China without being ruled by Beijing. Responding to Xi’s remarks, Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese president, said the country was “willing to sit down and talk” but only if Taiwan was represente­d by its own government. She also rejected the concept of “one country, two systems” favoured by China.

Tsai had pre-empted Xi’s address with her own speech on Tuesday, in which she emphasized Taiwan’s commitment to democracy and called on Beijing to seek peaceful means to solve their difference­s.

Taiwan rejects China’s territoria­l claims. As a result, Beijing has tried in recent years to undermine Taiwanese sovereignt­y and has stepped up pressure on the internatio­nal community to exclude Taipei from global forums.

Victor Gao, a commentato­r on China’s state broadcaste­r, said the “landmark speech” could be seen as a turning point in cross-strait relations. However, Xi’s overtures received a muted response in Taiwan.

 ??  ?? Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada