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Xi Jinping Says Task Of Reunification With Taiwan “Must Be Done”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that “reunification” with Taiwan “will” and “must” be achieved, less than a week after Beijing sent a record number of fighter jets to the identification area of air defense (ADIZ) near the Autonomous Island.

Xi’s remarks on Taiwan, which came in a speech marking the 1911 uprising that overthrew the last Qing Emperor and led to the founding of the Republic of China, largely followed the course set out in his latest high-profile comments on the question in July. At that time, the Chinese leader declared taking control of Taiwan as the “historic mission” and “unwavering commitment” of the Communist Party and vowed to “crush” any attempt at independence.

In Saturday’s speech, Xi said China “will adhere to the basic policies of peaceful reunification and” one country, two systems “, respect the” one China principle “and the 1992 consensus, and work for the peaceful development of countries. relations between the two shores.

But the Chinese leader also issued a disturbing tone, reiterating that “Taiwan’s independence is the greatest obstacle to national reunification and the most serious hidden danger to national rejuvenation.”

“The historic task of the full reunification of the homeland must be accomplished and certainly will be,” Xi said.

“Those who forget their heritage, betray their homeland and seek to divide the country will have no end and will be held by the people and recorded in history,” he added.

Although Xi did not mention the use of force to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, he called the issue “purely an internal matter … – governed island.”

In previous speeches, Xi has adopted a more openly hostile tone in referring to what China sees as a renegade province.

In a speech in January 2019, the Chinese leader said Beijing “will not make any promises to renounce the use of force and will reserve the right to take whatever means are necessary” to prevent independence and reunite Taiwan with the mainland.

Washington, which transferred diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei in 1979, sees the autonomous island as a key partner and a crucial line of defense as the Chinese military continues to push further into the western Pacific. Although it no longer formally recognizes Taiwan, the United States is required by law to provide Taipei with the means to defend itself, in accordance with the Law on Relations with Taiwan.

A Taiwanese flag is carried by a Chinook helicopter during a rehearsal for the upcoming National Day celebration in Taipei on Thursday. | REUTERS

Although Beijing remains deeply suspicious of the intentions of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her ruling Progressive Democratic Party, the Taiwanese leader has refrained from pushing the boundaries of a formal declaration of independence, saying that the island is “already independent”.

Xi’s speech follows rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait after Chinese warplanes – including advanced fighters and nuclear-capable bombers – flew nearly 150 sorties into Taiwan’s ADIZ during of the first five days of October, setting single-day records in three of these and raising the specter of a military miscalculation.

Beijing also urged Washington on Friday to stick to its deal to keep troops out of Taiwan, offering a surprisingly one-size-fits-all response to the US confirmation that US special forces and Marines have trained local forces to better cope. defend in case of attack by China.

“The one-China principle is the political foundation of Sino-US relations…. In the statement on establishing diplomatic relations between China and the United States, the United States made a clear commitment to only maintain cultural, trade and other relations with Taiwan, ”the ministry spokesman said. Chinese Foreign Minister, Zhao Lijian.

Xi’s seemingly restrained remarks on Taiwan and the toned-down response to the report by US troops there come after the US and China agreed on the principle of a virtual leaders’ summit before the end of the year, after high-level talks aimed at improving communication between the two rivals.

It was unclear what the speech meant both amid the promise of more talks with the United States and after the upsurge in saber strikes near Taiwan.

But Wen-Ti Sung, senior lecturer at Australian National University and expert on Taiwan-China relations, called Xi’s speech on Saturday a “remarkable easing of Taiwan policy … after an intense week. military postures “.

“First give a big stick, then show the carrot” he wrote on Twitter.

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