Xi Jinping says reunification with Taiwan “will be achieved”

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Beijing (AFP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday said “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan “will and can be achieved,” days after Chinese warplanes made record incursions into the democratically ruled island’s air defense zone .

Autonomous Taiwan, which has never officially declared independence, lives under constant threat of invasion by China, which considers the island its territory and has vowed to seize it one day, by force if necessary. .

“Achieving national reunification by peaceful means serves the best interests of the nation as a whole, including our brothers in Taiwan,” Xi said in a speech marking the 110th anniversary of a revolution that ended millennia. imperial regime and led to the founding of the Republic. from China.

“Taiwan’s independence is the biggest obstacle to homeland reunification and a grave hidden danger,” Xi warned.

A large portrait of Sun Yat-sen, a Western-trained physician who led the 1911 revolution that toppled the Qing Empire, dominated the scene as Xi spoke.

Sun founded the Republic of China, which remains the official name of Taiwan, where defeated nationalists fled after Mao Zedong’s communist forces won the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and established the People’s Republic.

Xi also warned of foreign interference in Taiwan. Noël Celis AFP

“The full reunification of our country will be and can be achieved,” Xi said.

He also warned of foreign interference in Taiwan after a Pentagon official confirmed that US special operations forces have been quietly training Taiwanese troops for months.

“The Taiwan issue is purely an internal Chinese affair and does not allow any outside interference,” he said.

Beijing has stepped up pressure on Taipei since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who considers the island “already independent”.

Tsai is due to speak Sunday at an event commemorating the 1911 revolution, one of the few events that unites China and Taiwan.

Taiwan’s defense minister said on Wednesday that military tensions with China were at their highest in four decades, after around 150 Chinese fighter jets – a record number – made inroads into the air defense zone of Taiwan in recent days.

Xi’s warning comes after Britain sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait last week, challenging Beijing’s claim to the sensitive waterway, and a French delegation visited Taiwan despite warnings from China.

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