China's Xi Jinping says Taiwan must be unified with mainland

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Taiwan's reunification with China is inevitable and will bring greater stability to the Asia-Pacific region and the world, President Xi Jinping said yesterday as he promised more opportunities for the estranged territory in China's growth and a one-country-two-systems model that guarantees its rights.

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.

President Xi said that no one or no party can stop the trend toward unification.

President Xi thundered against past efforts in Taiwan to become legally independent of China and said the two sides should pursue a "one country-two systems" model of unification that his government applied to Hong Kong in 1997.

"China has to squarely face the factual existence of the Republic of China, Taiwan, instead of denying the democratic system that the Taiwanese people have built together".

The arrival marked the first time Taiwan has received 11 million overseas visitors in a single year, following 10.7 million visitor arrivals in 2017 and 2016, and 10.4 million visitors in 2015.

He added that Beijing can "make no promise to give up the use of military force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means" against Taiwanese separatist activities and "outside forces" that interfere with reunification.

These "musts", she said, form the "most basic and most key foundation for the positive development of relations between Taiwan and China".

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The "1992 consensus" refers to a verbal agreement reached in 1992 between the then Kuomintang (KMT) government of Taiwan and Chinese communist officials that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is only "one China", with each side free to interpret what "China" means.

Taiwan's leader rejected his call just hours later.

When Jiang Zemin took power in Beijing, he largely continued Deng's policies - wooing the island by opening the doors to Taiwan entrepreneurs wanting to set up factories and businesses on the mainland and take advantage of its cheap labour and vast market.

But Xi's vision of unification with China has little support within Taiwan. Washington and Beijing established ties only after the USA broke its formal ties to Taiwan.

"The history of the development of cross-strait relations has proven that no individual or force can change the historical and de jure sense of facts that Taiwan is a part of China and that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the same 'China, '" Xi said. He also noted that Beijing is ready for talks, albeit on the condition that Taiwanese authorities accept the "one China" principle.

Xi pledged that unification would be under a one-country, two-system framework that would respect the Taiwanese social system and way of life and guarantee their property rights, religious beliefs and other rights.

A mother carries her child past a television in New Taipei City on January 2, 2019 showing Xi making a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of a message sent to Taiwan in 1979.

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