China's leader urges action on unification with Taiwan

President Xi Jinping made the remarks at a gathering at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Jan 2 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of

Xi Jinping says China 'must be, will be' reunified with Taiwan

Meanwhile, the Mainland Affairs Council in a news release rejected Xi's proposal for "democratic and political negotiations" on the basis of the "1992 consensus" and opposition to Taiwanese independence, saying that making "one China" a prerequisite for such negotiations is a clear attempt to divide Taiwan and eliminate its sovereignty.

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.

On January 1, 1979, China declared an end to what had been routine artillery bombardment of Taiwan-controlled offshore islands close to China and offered to open up communications between the two sides, after decades of hostility.

"We are willing to create a vast space for peaceful unification, but we will never leave any room for any sort of Taiwan independence separatist activities", Xi said.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that Taiwan and its people would never accept a "one country, two systems" arrangement and urged China to bravely embark on the path to democracy to fully understand the minds of Taiwanese.

The Chinese president has been "haunted" by the failure of past policies to bring Taiwan into the fold, said Wuer Kaixi, a former student leader during Tiananmen Square protests who lives in Taiwan and has been active in politics there.

Taiwan is a self-governed democracy and for all practical purposes has acted as an independent nation since 1950, when China's nationalist government was defeated by communist forces and fled there from the mainland.

"If the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) party wins the 2020 presidential election, Xi will likely demand Taipei to take concrete measures toward unification with China", Ding said.

Xi promised Taiwan that under Chinese rule it could have the same "one country, two systems" model that Hong Kong has.

Xi's speech commemorated the 40th anniversary of a message sent to Taiwan in 1979, in which China called for unification and an end to military confrontation.

Xi described unification under a "one country, two systems" approach that would "safeguard the interests and well-being of Taiwanese compatriots".

What did President Xi say?

In his speech, Xi Jinping said Taiwan's unification with the mainland is "inevitable" and warned against any efforts to promote the island's independence.

In November, Ms Tsai's political party saw a heavy setback in regional elections perceived by Beijing as a blow to her separatist stance.

Use of force against Taiwan would hurt China by inciting a response from Japan and the United States, Michael Tsai added.

The specifics of Mr. Xi's address differed little from what his predecessors have said about Taiwan.

Should mainland Chinese indeed flock to Taiwan in 2019, tourism operators in KMT-led cities and counties could see significant increases in revenue - which will inevitably lead some to attribute the gains exclusively to the KMT's attempt to warm relations with Beijing, while overlooking ongoing efforts to attract tourists of other nationalities under the New Southbound Policy. According to an August study by National Chengchi University, just 3 percent of respondents wish to unify with China "as soon as possible", while an additional 12.5 percent want to maintain the status quo while moving toward unification.

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