Xi Jinping says Taiwan "must and will be" reunited with China

Xi Jinping says Taiwan

What China calls "reunification" should happen peacefully and Beijing would protect Taiwan's freedoms, Mr. Xi said, specifically pointing to the Hong Kong model of "one country two systems" as a Taiwanese solution.

Xi's words that Taiwan "must and will be reunited" follow along with Beijing's long-standing view on its most sensitive issue, though there is some worry in Taiwan that with his increased power Xi is in a stronger position than his predecessors when it comes to achieving this goal.

President Xi said that no one or no party can stop the trend toward unification.

Tsai spoke at Taiwan's Presidential Office in Taipei Wednesday, after Xi spoke in Beijing's Great Hall of the People to commemorate the 40th anniversary of "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan", a policy document issued on the day the U.S. and China established formal diplomatic relations that proposed dialogue and exchanges between the two countries, not military confrontation.

That trend was broadly seen as an undercurrent in the 2016 election of Ms. Tsai, who calls Taiwan a "nation" and, in a January 1 address, said Beijing "must face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China", the formal name for Taiwan.

Mr Xi said Taipei could be accommodated in the same way as Hong Kong, into a "one country, two systems" relationship.

The arrival marked the first time Taiwan has received 11 million overseas visitors in a single year, following 10.7 million visitor arrivals in 2017 and 2016, and 10.4 million visitors in 2015.

He also stressed that relations with Taiwan were "part of China's domestic politics" and that "foreign interference is intolerable". As NPR's Beijing Correspondent Rob Schmitz has reported previously, Taiwan split from China in 1949 when the USA -supported Chinese nationalist leadership fled after losing a civil war to communist forces.

Xi's Wednesday address was notable for what it did not say: Gone was the bluster of his March 2018 speech, in which he said "not a single inch of our land" would be ceded from China and attempts to "split" China would be "punished by history". The rival Nationalists set up their own government on the island about 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the Chinese mainland.

Then-president of Taiwan Chiang Ching-Kuo turned down Beijing's olive branch in 1979, reports Reuters, and later that year came out with the "Three-Noes Policy": no contact, no compromise and no negotiation with China.

It was a notion that Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen immediately rejected Wednesday amid concern that Mr. Xi is directing what Lai I-chung, who chairs the International Cooperation Council of Taiwan think tank, called a "major policy change".

"Deviating from the "One China" principle will make the situation of cross (strait) relations tense and chaotic".

The vast majority of Taiwan's people are clearly aware that Taiwan independence would lead to a "grave disaster", Xi told an audience that included Taiwan business people and senior party officials.

Liu Jieyi, head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said in his new year's message they had not wavered last year in the face of "deliberate provocations" from Taiwan's government.

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