Chinese President Xi Jinping promised on Saturday (9) an inevitable “reunification” with Taiwan by “peaceful” means, while the island reported in recent days a record number of incursions by military planes from Beijing.
The Chinese head of state spoke on the occasion of the celebrations for the 110th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, which overthrew the last Chinese dynasty.
The event, which is held today in Communist China, will also be remembered on Sunday (10) in Taiwan, where Sun Yat-sen, the first and ephemeral Chinese president, is considered the father of the nation.
The island of Taiwan, which enjoys a democratic system, has been ruled by an independent power from Beijing since the Communists’ victory over the mainland in 1949.
China considers this territory as one of its provinces. And it threatens to use force in the event of a formal proclamation of the island’s independence.
“Achieving the reunification of the motherland by peaceful means is in the general interest of the Chinese nation, including Taiwan’s compatriots,” declared Xi Jinping at the huge People’s Palace in Beijing, with a portrait of Sun Yat-sen in the background.
Despite their political and historical rivalry, Beijing and Taipei derive their legitimacy from the 1911 Revolution. “The reunification of our country can and will be achieved,” said Xi Jinping, warning against any foreign interference.
“The Taiwan issue is a purely internal Chinese affair,” he insisted, while Washington admitted on Friday that it had been secretly training the Taiwanese army for months.
A contingent of about 20 members of US special operations and conventional forces has been conducting the training for less than a year, a Pentagon official told AFP, under anonymity.
The United States supplies Taiwan with weapons, including defense missiles and fighter jets, amid Beijing’s threat to forcibly regain control of the island and reintegrate it with China.
Americans also have an ambiguous commitment to defending Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rebel province.
“No one should underestimate the strong determination (…) of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi warned on Saturday. The commemoration of the Revolution is one of the few events that bring China and Taiwan together.
The island’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, an enemy of the Communists because of her separatist tendencies, is also due to give a speech on Sunday on the anniversary.
“Those who betray the homeland and divide the country never end well,” threatened Xi Jinping of Taiwanese separatists.
The commemorations of the events of 1911 come amid tensions in the Taiwan Straits, following the biggest incursion in recent days by Chinese military planes into the island’s air defense identification zone.