Foreign involvement in Taiwan independence is 'intolerable,' China's Xi says

China's Xi Jinping Says Taiwan Must Be Unified With Mainland

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that the people of Taiwan ought to accept peaceful reunification with the mainland as an inevitability while adding the important caveat that Beijing still reserves the right to use force to achieve this aim.

A woman walks past a television in New Taipei City showing China's leader Xi Jinping making a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of a message sent to Taiwan in 1979.

"We are willing to create a vast space for peaceful unification, but we will never leave any room for any sort of Taiwan independence separatist activities", Xi said.

President Xi said China will not "give up the use of its military force" as an option to ensure the reunification while insisting the island would ultimately be reunified with the mainland.

But after Ms Tsai Ing-wen led the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party to power in Taiwan in 2016, President Xi has been exerting pressure on the territory by cutting contact with its government and goading countries to break diplomatic ties with the island.

"Taiwan will never accept a "one country, two systems" framework", said President Tsai.

"Taiwan is one of the issues that his internal critics could come at him with, and the last thing he probably wants is to be criticised for being soft on Taiwan".

Significantly, the record-breaking number of tourist arrivals to Taiwan seems to contradict critics who argue that Tsai's refusal to acknowledge the so-called "1992 Consensus" over the "one China" principle (whereby both Beijing and Taipei claim sovereignty over China) has "seriously harmed Taiwan's travel industry".

Taiwan and China must join hands to facilitate the reinvigoration of the Zhonghua minzu (中華民族, "Chinese ethnic group") and realize the goal of peaceful unification, Xi said, adding that the continued separation of the two sides is a historical trauma suffered by the Zhonghua minzu as a whole, whose revival would help solve the "Taiwan problem".

President Xi has taken steps to unify the two lands since becoming China's leader in 2012. The rival Nationalists set up their own government on the island about 160 kilometres off the Chinese mainland. It was caused by Beijing conducting missile tests over Taiwan's outlying islands in a failed attempt to sway voters not to re-elect Lee Teng-hui, whose high-profile visit to the United States had infuriated the mainland government.

On Wednesday, he suggested that "political parties and people from all walks of life on both sides of the strait elect representatives" to engage in talks on the future of their relationship, saying an agreement that both sides belong to "one China" must be upheld in negotiations.

But Xi's vision of unification with China has little support within Taiwan.

Tsai said Taiwan is willing to talk, but it must be with the approval of the Taiwanese people.

Hong Kong, which Xi offered as a model of semi-autonomy, has been wracked by political divisions and street protests precisely over the growing perception that Beijing has reneged on its promise of "one country, two systems", as its influence is increasingly felt in local politics, elections, courts and media.

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