Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday pledged Beijing’s “reunification” with Taiwan in his year-end address, just weeks before the self-governing island holds elections for its president and legislature.
“The reunification of the motherland is a historical inevitability,” Xi said, according to Reuters. The official English translation of his remarks, as provided by his office, reads, “China will surely be reunified.”
“And all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be bound by a common sense of purpose and share in the glory of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Xi added, according to the translation posted by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Chinese leader’s tone appeared stronger than last year, Reuters noted. Last year, Xi said people on either side of the strait are “members of one and the same family,” and pushed for China and Taiwan to work together to “jointly foster lasting prosperity of the Chinese nation,” the news wire added.
Xi’s remarks Sunday echo those he made last week, where he pledged to prevent anyone from “splitting Taiwan from China in any way.”
During a celebration of the 130th anniversary of the birth of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong last week, Xi reportedly said, “The complete reunification of the motherland is an irresistible trend.”
Days later, China’s Defense Ministry reaffirmed the country’s threat to use military force to annex the self-governed Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.
Defense Ministry spokesperson Col. Wu Qian told reporters last week that China’s military would “as always take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” The Associated Press reported.
The majority of Taiwan’s population of about 23 million people are in support of keeping the island’s self-governing status, the AP noted.
China has continued to carry out actions viewed as intimidating around Taiwan, such as sending warships and fighter jets close to the island, further fueling concerns of a potential invasion in the future.
Xi did not mention any military threats during his year-end speech on Sunday.
Taiwan will hold elections for its president and legislature on Jan. 13.
Meeting with Xi last month in San Francisco, President Biden said he cautioned China against interfering in Taiwan’s upcoming elections, given the tense relations between Beijing and the island.
The topic of Taiwan’s de-facto independence status has been a source of contention between Washington and Beijing. Biden previously said the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if it were attacked, a contradiction of the U.S.’s longstanding ambiguity on the issue.
Biden in November, however, also reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to the One China policy, in which the U.S. does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state from mainland China.
“We maintain the agreement that there is a One China policy. I’m not going to change that. That’s not going to change. That’s about the extent to which we discussed it,” Biden said in November.
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