Xi says Taiwan independence would lead to disaster

January 02, 2019 13:07
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during an event marking the 40th anniversary of the "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan" at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Taiwan independence would lead to “disaster” and pledged to pursue efforts for peaceful “reunification” with the self-ruled island while warning that Beijing would not renounce the use of force, Reuters reports.

Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 40th anniversary of a key Taiwan policy statement on Wednesday, Xi said reunification must come under a one-China principle that accepts Taiwan as part of China, anathema to supporters of Taiwan independence.

All people in Taiwan must “clearly recognize that Taiwan independence would only bring profound disaster to Taiwan”, Xi said. 

“We are willing to create broad space for peaceful reunification, but will leave no room for any form of separatist activities,” he said. 

“We make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means,” he said, adding that the issue is China’s internal affair and that it would permit “no external interference”. 

On Tuesday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said China must use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Taiwan and respect its democratic values. 

China has heaped pressure on Tsai since she took office in 2016, cutting off dialogue, whittling down Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies and forcing foreign airlines to list Taiwan as part of China on their websites. 

China fears Tsai wishes to push for Taiwan’s formal independence, though Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo. Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills. 

Taiwan is gearing up for presidential elections in a year’s time. Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party suffered stinging losses to the China-friendly Kuomintang in mayoral and local elections in November. 

In a new year’s address at the presidential office in Taipei, Tsai said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait needed a pragmatic understanding of the basic differences that exist between them in terms of values and political systems. 

“Here, I would like to call on China to face squarely the reality of the existence of the Republic of China on Taiwan,” Tsai said, referring to the island’s formal name. 

China “must respect the insistence of 23 million people on freedom and democracy, and must use peaceful, on parity means to handle our differences”, she added. 

Chinese Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in December of 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists.  

While today the two sides have close business, cultural and personal links, proudly democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being ruled by autocratic Beijing.  

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