China will not 'give up use of military force' over Taiwan

Tsai spoke at Taiwan's Presidential Office in Taipei Wednesday, after Xi spoke in Beijing's Great Hall of the People to commemorate the 40th anniversary of "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan", a policy document issued on the day the USA and China established formal diplomatic relations that proposed dialogue and exchanges between the two countries, not military confrontation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested that mainland China and Taiwan enter into "in-depth democratic consultations" and work toward unification, in the clearest sign yet that he wants to settle the 70-year dispute during his tenure.

In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Xi sent a warning to advocates of Taiwan's independence, who include supporters of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists lost to Mao Zedong's Communists.

Although President Xi said in his speech that unification with Taiwan through force is a possibility, Ding believes it is unlikely that Beijing would send troops to occupy Taiwan.

Ms Tsai warned against continued threats from China in her New Year's Day address Tuesday, signalling a hard line despite her recent election losses to Taiwan's more Beijing-friendly Kuomintang opposition.

Tsai said that Taiwan is willing to talk, but it must be with the approval of the Taiwanese people.

Taiwan's president demanded in a New Year's speech that China recognize her government and respect the resolve of the island's 23 million people.

"Here, I would like to call on China to face squarely the reality of the existence of the Republic of China on Taiwan", Tsai said, referring to the island's formal name.

On Jan. 1, 1979, China stopped decades of regular artillery bombardment of Taiwan-controlled islands off the mainland.

Beijing "reserves the option of taking all necessary measures" against outside forces that interfere with peaceful reunification and Taiwanese separatist activities.

China has responded to her rejection by flying military aircraft near the island, squelching Taiwanese foreign diplomacy and scaling back Taiwan-bound group tourism.

But uncertainties in cross-strait relations have grown as the political landscape has changed in democratic, self-ruled Taiwan.

In Hong Kong, that has meant a more muscular effort to impose Chinese will, including by seizing people wanted by authorities in Beijing.

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.

Hong Kong, which Xi offered as a model of semi-autonomy, has been wracked by political divisions and street protests precisely over the growing perception that Beijing has reneged on its promise of "one country, two systems", as its influence is increasingly felt in local politics, elections, courts and media.

The address was also laced with threats of military force and warnings aimed at the Trump administration, which has shown greater willingness to show support for Taipei by selling arms and dispatching USA warships to nearby waters.

Washington also remains Taipei's most powerful unofficial ally and its main arms supplier despite switching diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.


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