Published: Wed, January 02, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Taiwan reunification is a must, says Xi Jinping

Taiwan reunification is a must, says Xi Jinping

In a speech marking 40 years since the start of improving ties, he reiterated Beijing's call for peaceful unification on a one-country-two-systems basis.

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

On Wednesday, Xi advocated for peaceful unification of the two sides and said the "private assets, religions, and beliefs and legitimate rights of the people in Taiwan will also be fully guaranteed". We are willing to use the greatest sincerity and expend the greatest hard work to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification.

Xi said Taiwanese independence should not be tolerated and representatives from both sides should "start in-depth democratic consultations for a cross-strait relationship and the future of the Chinese nation, and reach transitional arrangements for the peaceful development of cross-strait ties".

Taiwan and the mainland have been divided since the Nationalist, or Kuomintang, forces were defeated by the Communists in a civil war and retreated to the island.

Beijing considers the island to be a breakaway province and Mr Xi's comments are in line with China's long-standing policy towards reunification.

Relations have been strained for the past two years since the election of Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to acknowledge Beijing's stance that the island is part of "one China".

"The Chinese dream [of national rejuvenation] is the common dream of compatriots across the strait", he said, using a slogan to promote China's aspirations to be a strong power by the middle of the century.

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Xi's speech is likely to be 'very poorly received, ' by the United States, said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, who studies Chinese foreign policy.

Xi has stepped up pressure on the proudly democratic island since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party became president in 2016.

"We are willing to sit down and talk, but as a democratic nation all political negotiations relating to cross-strait relations must be undertaken with the authorization and supervision of the people of Taiwan and must proceed across the strait under the government-to-government model", Tsai said.

Up until 1979, China had conducted routine artillery bombardment of Taiwan-controlled offshore islands like Kinmen close to the mainland.

Taiwan's leader rejected his call just hours later.

Beijing has won over more and more of Taipei's few global allies to cut diplomatic ties with the island and establish relations with China instead.

On Tuesday, Tsai warned Beijing that Taiwan's people would never give up the kind of freedoms unseen on the authoritarian mainland.

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