Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his annual New Year’s address, reiterated his assertion that Taiwan “will definitely be reunited” with China.
His message comes ahead of Taiwan’s crucial Jan. 13 election, which will determine the island’s cross-strait policies for the next four years.
He also took a stronger tone than last year, in which he talked about Taiwan being part of “the same family.
” China has stepped up military pressure on Taiwan as the election approaches. They consider the self-governing island of 23 million people a breakaway province that will eventually come under Beijing’s control.
Taiwan considers itself distinct from mainland China, with its own constitution and democratically elected leaders. Separately, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in her New Year’s speech that the island’s relationship with China should be decided by “the will of the Taiwanese people.
” His government has repeatedly warned that Beijing is trying to interfere in the election, in which a new president and government will be elected.
Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT) party has traditionally favored warmer relations with Beijing – although it denies being pro-China.
The KMT’s main rival, Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has ruled Taiwan for eight years and has taken a tougher line on China, asserting that the country is sovereign and not belongs to China.
Mr Xi’s latest comments are in line with China’s long-standing policy of unification, but the message is harsher in tone than Mr. Xi gave last year, when he called “people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait Loan… is a member of one and the same family.
The Taiwan issue also strained relations between the United States and China, with China subsequently condemning any support from Washington for Taipei.
Beijing said it “reserves the ability to take all necessary measures” against external forces that hinder peaceful unification.
However, the two countries marked the new year with a positive message, with Xi and US President Joe Biden exchanging congratulatory messages on Monday.
Xi noted that “adhering to mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation is the correct way for China and the US to interact,” according to Reuters, citing state media CCTV China.