Taiwan reunification with China 'inevitable' - Xi

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Relations have been strained for the past two years since the election of Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to acknowledge Beijing's stance that the island is part of "one China".

In a speech on Wednesday to mark the 40th anniversary of a call from Beijing to end military confrontation across the Taiwan Strait, Xi said unification was key to "national rejuvenation".

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Taiwan's unification with mainland China is "inevitable", issuing a stern warning against any separatist or independence attempts on the self-governing island in a firmly-worded speech Wednesday.

Tsai, who says she wants to maintain the status quo with China, said on Tuesday China must use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Taiwan and respect its democratic values.

"We are willing to use the greatest sincerity and expend the greatest hard work to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification", Xi said.

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Last October, tens of thousands of Taiwan independence campaigners took to the streets in the first large-scale protest calling for an outright independence vote since the island first became a democracy more than 20 years ago.

In a speech marking 40 years since the start of improving ties, he reiterated Beijing's call for peaceful unification on a one-country-two-systems basis.

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.

'It's rather empty and doesn't have any new points except that cross-strait unification would not affect the interests of other countries, ' said Fan Shih-ping, political analyst at National Taiwan Normal University, adding that Xi's words may also be intended for the United States, which views Taiwan as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy.

Taiwan is China's most sensitive issue and is claimed by Beijing as its sacred territory. He called for efforts to foster wide-ranging "democratic consultation" between representatives from both sides and deepen integrated development across the Taiwan Strait, saying that "Chinese people should help each other".

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Beijing "reserves the option of taking all necessary measures" against outside forces that interfere with peaceful reunification and Taiwan independence separatist activities, he said.

All people in Taiwan must "clearly recognize that Taiwan independence would only bring profound disaster to Taiwan", Xi said in his address.

In addition, Beijing has staged military drills near the island, wooed away some of Taipei's diplomatic allies and cut the number of mainland tourists allowed to make the trip across the strait.

On Jan. 1, 1979, China stopped decades of regular artillery bombardment of Taiwan-controlled islands off the mainland. Ms. Tsai offered a swift rebuke, saying "the vast majority in Taiwan resolutely oppose 'one country two systems'". Tsai's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party suffered stinging losses to the China-friendly Kuomintang in mayoral and local elections in November.

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