Xi Calls Uniting With Taiwan Inevitable

Relations with China are an issue in Taiwan's elections
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2023 5:10 PM CST
Updated Jan 1, 2024 12:00 AM CST
Xi: Uniting With Taiwan Is 'a Historical Inevitability'
In this photo released on Sunday by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year's message in Beijing.   (Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP)

President Xi Jinping told China on Sunday that the nation's reunification with Taiwan is bound to happen. "The reunification of the motherland is a historical inevitability," he said in his New Year's address, according to the official translation. His remarks came two weeks before Taiwan, which broke away in 1949, holds elections that could alter relations, Politico Europe reports. China still claims Taiwan as its territory and has been increasing pressure on the island by conducting military drills in the area. His government has never said it won't use force against Taiwan, but Xi included no military threats in his televised speech, per Reuters.

Xi had not gone so far last year, when he said that people on either side of the Taiwan Strait are "members of one and the same family." That speech expressed hope for cooperation to "jointly foster lasting prosperity of the Chinese nation." The level of cooperation was a point of contention during and after a debate Saturday among Taiwan's presidential candidates, who all supported peace with China. William Lai, the front-runner, said he's open to talking with China's government, though it refuses to talk to him.

"The international community has realized the threat China poses to Taiwan and the international community," Lai said, per the AP. "In fact, everyone is already preparing to respond. We should … unite and cooperate to ensure peace." China's Taiwan Affairs Office later issued a statement critical of Lai, saying, "His words were full of confrontational thinking." China's preference is Hou Yu-ih of the Nationalist Party. The candidate from the Taiwan People's Party, Ko Wen-je, quoted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: "Taiwan and China will cooperate if they can cooperate, compete if there's a need to compete, and confront each other if they must confront each other." (More Taiwan-China relations stories.)

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