Taiwan reunification with China 'inevitable', says Xi Jinping

Xi spoke at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 40th anniversary of a landmark Taiwan policy statement

President Xi Jinping used his new year's speech to call for the reunification of Taiwan with China, saying the country reserves the right to use force to do so, but would prefer for the process to be peaceful.

Significantly, the record-breaking number of tourist arrivals to Taiwan seems to contradict critics who argue that Tsai's refusal to acknowledge the so-called "1992 Consensus" over the "one China" principle (whereby both Beijing and Taipei claim sovereignty over China) has "seriously harmed Taiwan's travel industry".

Hong Kong, which Xi offered as a model of semi-autonomy, has been wracked by political divisions and street protests precisely over the growing perception that Beijing has reneged on its promise of "one country, two systems", as its influence is increasingly felt in local politics, elections, courts and media. Tsai has gone against the wishes of the Communist Party by refusing to support the "one-country, two systems" plan.

Yesterday, Tsai warned Beijing that Taiwan's people would never give up the kind of freedoms unseen on the authoritarian mainland.

Beijing considers the island to be a breakaway province and Mr Xi's comments are in line with China's long-standing policy towards reunification. As part of the government's New Southbound Policy, visitors from six Southeast Asian countries were allowed visa-free entry to Taiwan if they held a resident card or visa for Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, any European Union or Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, or the U.S. that had expired less than 10 years prior to their date of arrival.

"Taiwan will never accept a "one country, two systems" framework", said President Tsai.

All people in Taiwan must "clearly recognise that Taiwan independence would only bring profound disaster to Taiwan", Xi said. While the president said "Chinese don't beat Chinese", he noted that the mainland was "not committed to renouncing the use of force".

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Tsai's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which favors the eventual independence of Taiwan, lost ground in November 2018's regional elections as the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), which favors eventual reunification with China, swept to power in several key municipalities.

"I don't think the speech was negative", said David Lu, vice president of the equity department at Taishin International Bank in Taipei.

Taiwan's president demanded in a New Year's speech that China recognize her government and respect the resolve of the island's 23 million people.

Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and has heaped pressure on the island internationally, including whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

In mid-term elections previous year, the DPP suffered losses causing Tsai to resign as party leader, while the pro-China opposition rival Kuomintang made gains.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, listens to a speech during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. His father, Chiang Kai-shek, fled with defeated Nationalist forces to Taiwan in December 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists.

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