In his New Year’s speech on TV, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to “reunify” China with Taiwan, repeating Beijing’s claim over the island that governs itself and its intention to use military force if needed.
Taiwan broke away from China during a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still sees the island of 23 million with its advanced economy as part of China and has increased its pressure to take it back by force.
According to Xi, a reunification of China is inevitable.
In his words, “China will surely be reunified, and all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be bound by a common sense of purpose.”
Xi said in his yearly speech, as reported by the official Xinhua News Agency.
Beijing has portrayed Taiwan‘s Jan. 13 presidential and parliamentary elections as a matter of war or peace. Beijing views the leading presidential candidate, William Lai, who is also the vice president of the ruling Democratic People’s Party, as a “separatist” and has blamed him and Taiwan‘s President Tsai Ing-wen of stirring up a Chinese assault on the island.
On Saturday, Chen Binhua, the spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, labeled Lai as a “peace saboteur” after a televised debate where Lai asserted Taiwan’s right to self-rule as a democracy.
Chen said Lai’s remarks at the debate were “filled with antagonistic logic,” adding that the vice president is “the provocateur of a possible perilous war in the Taiwan Strait.”
Lai had stated during the debate that Taiwan is not inferior to China and that he was willing to talk to Beijing “as long as there is mutual respect and dignity on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.” Lai does not call himself an independence seeker from Beijing, but he generally holds that Taiwan is already a sovereign nation.
Lai’s election opponents include Hou Yu-ih from the more pro-China Kuomintang party, and Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party.