China will not give up the right to use force to reunify with Taiwan, President Xi Jinping said at the opening of the 20th Communist Party congress on Sunday.
“We insist on striving for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and best efforts,” he said. “But we will never promise to give up the use of force and reserve the option to take all necessary measures.”
“Resolving the Taiwan issue is the Chinese people’s own business, and it up to the Chinese people to decide.”
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Tensions between the Beijing and Taipei rose dramatically in August after China staged war games near Taiwan following the visit to Taiwan of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Those military activities have continued though at a reduced pace.
The option of force is not aimed at the vast majority of the Taiwanese people, insisted Xi, but a “very small number” of Taiwan independence supporters.
Taiwan Stands Firm
“Taiwan’s position is firm: no backing down on national sovereignty, no compromise on democracy and freedom, and meeting on the battlefield is absolutely not an option,” Taiwan’s presidential office said, in response.
“This is the consensus of Taiwan’s people,” the statement said.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said war between Taiwan and China was not an option and reiterated her willingness to talk to Beijing, in her national day speech on Monday.
China refuses to speak to Tsai, considering her a separatist.
“Xi Jinping should pay attention to the smoke and protest banners on the Sitong Bridge in Beijing, rather than always thinking about using force to deal with Taiwan,” Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said to reporters on Sunday.
Footage and discussion of the protest was later wiped off social media by China’s authorities, with those posting information seeing their WeChat accounts temporarily suspended.
“The historical wheels of national reunification and national rejuvenation are rolling forward,” said Xi as he closed his speech, met with a long round of applause.
“Complete reunification of the motherland must be achieved, and it must be achieved!”
- Reuters, with additional editing from Alfie Habershon