China's Xi Urges Action on Unification with Taiwan

China's Xi Urges Action on Unification with Taiwan

China's Xi Urges Action on Unification with Taiwan

During an impromptu press conference called hours after Xi Jinping's "unification" talk, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) sternly rejected the possibility of a "one country, two system" framework for Taiwan as proposed by the Chinese leader earlier Wednesday.

Xi Jinping has insisted that the island would ultimately be reunified with the mainland, and the issue should not be left for future generations to deal with.

"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", he said speaking at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Xi was speaking on the anniversary of the "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan" on January 1, 1979, when China declared an end to what had been routine artillery bombardment of Taiwan-controlled offshore islands and offered to open up communication between the two sides.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists lost to Mao Zedong's Communists.

Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state, with its own currency, political and judicial systems, but has never declared formal independence from the mainland.

Instead, unification was "an inevitable requirement for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people", he argued.

China, meanwhile, has sought to isolate Taiwan under Ms. Tsai, freezing official cross-straits communication, increasing military exercises around the region and persuading a series of diplomatic allies to cut ties with Taipei.

"The demands for unification on the one-China principle violates the will of the Taiwanese people", said Michael Tsai, chairman of the Institute for Taiwan Defense and Strategic Studies.

Taiwan's President Tsai yesterday rebuffed President Xi's offer, saying most Taiwanese oppose the one-country-two-systems model. As part of the government's New Southbound Policy, visitors from six Southeast Asian countries were allowed visa-free entry to Taiwan if they held a resident card or visa for Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, any European Union or Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, or the U.S. that had expired less than 10 years prior to their date of arrival. "Reunification is a historical trend and it is the right path. Taiwan independence is an adverse current of history and is a dead end".

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.

Beijing has also rolled out more extensive policies to court the island's business community and ordinary Taiwanese, vowing in February to give Taiwanese "equal status" on the mainland in areas ranging from business access to social benefits.

Taiwanese politicians and analysts have long alleged the existence of a Chinese campaign of interference in Taiwan's politics - fears which were amplified during and after Taiwan's November 24, 2018 regional elections - but the exact source, scope, and impact of any organized Chinese meddling remains unknown.

In recent years, Beijing has become increasingly assertive over its claims and what it says is a key question of national sovereignty.

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