China: Xi Jinping ‘in a hurry’ over Taiwan claims expert
China’s President did not directly mention the use of force after a week of tensions with the Chinese-claimed island that sparked international concern. Nevertheless, he made clear China’s determination to regain control of the autonomous island, which it regards as a province in accordance with its “one China” doctrine.
Taiwan responded shortly after by calling on Beijing to abandon its coercion, reiterating that only Taiwan’s people could decide their future.
Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the last imperial dynasty in 1911, Xi said: “No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s staunch determination, firm will, and strong ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled.
Xi Jinping has said it would be a mistake to “underestimate China’s determination”
A Chinese PLA Xian H-6 jet bomber in a picture handed out by Taiwan Ministry of National Defense
“Taiwan independence separatism is the biggest obstacle to achieving the reunification of the motherland, and the most serious hidden danger to national rejuvenation.”
Peaceful “reunification” best meets the overall interests of the Taiwanese people, but China would protect its sovereignty and unity, he insisted.
Xi softened his tone compared with a speech in July in which he vowed to “smash” any attempts at formal independence.
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Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s President
Democratically ruled Taiwan has come under increased military and political pressure from Beijing to accept its sovereignty, but Taipei has pledged to defend its freedom.
The presidential office said they were a sovereign independent country, not part of the People’s Republic of China, and had clearly rejected China’s offer of “one country, two systems” to rule the island.
An official said: “The nation’s future rests in the hands of Taiwan’s people.”
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Taiwan is less than 200 miles from mainland China
Chinese incursions in Taiwan’s airspace
In a separate statement, Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council called on Beijing to “abandon its provocative steps of intrusion, harassment and destruction” and return to talks.
China’s air force mounted four straight days of incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone from October 1, involving close to 150 aircraft, though those missions have since ended. Xi made no mention of those flights.
Taiwan officially calls itself the Republic of China, the name of the country established in 1912 after the fall of the Qing dynasty.
South China Sea mapped
That government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the Communists, who set up today’s People’s Republic.
Taiwan marks October 10, the date when the anti-imperial revolution began in China, as its national day, and President Tsai Ing-wen will give a keynote address in Taipei on Sunday.
Tsai, speaking at a pre-national day reception at an air base in northern Taiwan’s Hsinchu on Saturday night, thanked the armed forces for protecting Taiwan, though did not mention the tensions with China.
China military factfile
She said: “We will continue to work hard to hold fast the front lines of democracy and freedom.”
China commemorates the revolution by harking back to republican leader Sun Yat-sen’s calls for patriotism, national rejuvenation and good governance.
Xi also used his speech to underscore the need for “a strong force to lead the country, and this strong force is the Chinese Communist Party”.
He has tightened party control in all aspects of life and is almost certain to break protocol and stay on as Communist Party boss for a third term late next year, when a congress will elect a new leadership for the following five years.