In his New Year’s address, Chinese President Xi Jinping asserted that China would “surely be reunified” with Taiwan, reinforcing Beijing’s longstanding threat to militarily take over the self-ruled island- Taiwan. These remarks come just ahead of Taiwan’s January 13 presidential and parliamentary elections, a situation China has framed as a choice between war and peace between both countries.
“The reunification of the motherland is an unavoidable historical outcome,” stated Xi, with the official English translation from Xinhua news agency stating- that China will no doubt be reunified. He went on to emphasize that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should unite with a shared purpose and partake in the resurgence of the Chinese nation.
William Lai, the current vice president of the ruling Democratic People’s Party and the presidential front-runner, is perceived as a “separatist” by China. Accusations have been made against Lai and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, alleging attempts to provoke a Chinese attack on the island.
Since the civil war in 1949 that led to Taiwan’s separation from China, Beijing has consistently regarded the island as Chinese territory. Taiwan’s self-governance has been a persistent point of tension. China regularly deploys fighter jets close to Taiwan’s airspace and warships near its waters.
Under the “one-China” policy, the United States officially acknowledges China’s claim to Taiwan but continues to provide military support to the island. Referred to as “strategic ambiguity,” the U.S. approach involves maintaining a degree of uncertainty, as President Joe Biden occasionally affirms the U.S. dedication to protect Taiwan if faced with a Chinese assault.
President Xi’s New Year’s remarks left room for interpretation regarding Beijing’s intentions. He emphasized China’s reunification and urged a sense of purpose among the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Meanwhile, Chen Binhua, spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, labelled Lai a “destroyer of peace” following a televised debate where Lai defended Taiwan’s right to self-rule as a democracy.
Chen accused Lai of encouraging confrontational thinking, characterizing him as an instigator of potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait. Lai, however, expressed openness to talks with Beijing without explicitly seeking independence, as he already considers Taiwan an independent country.
In conclusion, President Xi Jinping’s assertion of the historical inevitability of China’s reunification with Taiwan underscores Beijing’s unwavering stance on the issue. These remarks highlight the persistent tension in the region and the resolute stance of the Chinese leadership on territorial matters relating to Taiwan.