BEIJING/TAIPEI (Reuters) – China has the resolve, confidence and
ability to thwart any attempt by self-ruled Taiwan to declare
independence, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday,
prompting Taipei to retort that only its people could decide
Taiwan is one of China’s most important and sensitive issues.
China considers proudly democratic Taiwan to be a wayward
province and has never renounced the possibility of using force
to bring the island under its control.
Xi has set great store on trying to resolve differences, holding
a landmark meeting with then-President Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore
But relations have nosedived since Tsai Ing-wen of the
pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won presidential
elections last year, with Beijing fearing she wants to push for
Taiwan’s formal independence, a red line for China.
“We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political
party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of
Chinese territory from China,” Xi told more than 2,000 delegates
at the opening of a week-long Communist Party Congress, drawing
the longest applause during his 3-1/2 hour speech.
“We have the resolve, the confidence and the ability to defeat
separatist attempts for Taiwan independence in any form,” Xi told
the audience, including some 300 from the People’s Liberation
Beijing has suspended a regular dialogue mechanism with Taipei
established under Taiwan’s previous, China-friendly government,
and there has been a dramatic fall in the number of Chinese
tourists visiting Taiwan under Tsai’s administration.
Tsai says she wants peace with China but will protect Taiwan’s
freedom and democracy
In Taipei, the cabinet’s Mainland Affairs Council said it was
“absolutely” the right of Taiwan’s 23 million people to decide
“The Republic of China is a sovereign country,” the council said,
using Taiwan’s formal name.
The perpetuation of Taiwan’s democratic system was a core value
of Taiwan’s, the council said in reaction to Xi’s speech. Tsai
and her government had been restrained and not provocative
towards China, but had staunchly defended Taiwan’s security and
Xi said that China respected Taiwan’s “current social system and
way of life”.
“Recognize the historical fact … that the two sides both belong
to one China, and then our two sides can conduct dialogue to
address through discussion the concerns of the people of both
sides, and no political party or group in Taiwan will have any
difficulty conducting exchanges with the mainland,” he added.