Chinese president uses threats to urge Taiwan to unify with mainland China

China's Xi Jinping Says Taiwan Must Be Unified With Mainland

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that no one can change the fact that Taiwan is "part of China", adding that Beijing will not give up the use of military force as an option to ensure "reunification".

Merely a day later, Xi described his vision for unification via a "one country, two systems" approach to "safeguard the interests and well-being of Taiwanese compatriots".

Xi's words that Taiwan "must and will be reunited" follow along with Beijing's long-standing view on its most sensitive issue, though there is some worry in Taiwan that with his increased power Xi is in a stronger position than his predecessors when it comes to achieving this goal.

But it was when United States national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski met then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in 1984 that the idea of "one unified country of China with two systems" was first floated to resolve the Taiwan dilemma.

The "Message of Compatriots in Taiwan" on January 1, 1979, declared an end to routine artillery bombardment of Taiwan-controlled islands close to China, marking a turning point from decades of hostility between the two sides. He did mention the historical completion of the "Three Links" between Taiwan and China and expressed a wish that the outlying ROC islands of Kinmen and Matsu be connected by bridge to China - an idea touted in the past by Kinmen politicians.

"It's a legal fact that both sides of the straits belong to one China, and can not be changed by anyone or any force", Mr Xi said. Since losing its civil war, Taiwan has occupied a dubious place internationally, with mainland China encouraging other countries not to recognize it. Xi insisted that any future talks must revolve around Taiwan, a democracy, coming under communist authority and refused to take violence off the table should Taiwan insist on its independence, according to NYT.

All told, the speech amounted to a more balanced tack at a juncture when Taiwan is gearing up for presidential elections, and mainland officials - and Taiwanese politicians - see an opportunity to press their case.

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The first so-called Taiwan crisis happened four years later, when the PLA began shelling the islands of Quemoy, also known as Kinmen, and Tachen as the Nationalists - led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek - dug in and reinforced their defences on the islands.

Beijing has won over more and more of Taipei's few worldwide allies to cut diplomatic ties with the island and establish relations with China instead.

Referring to her New Year's talk a day ago, President Tsai said both sides of the Strait must resolve their differences through peaceful means and on equal terms.

Tang Yonghong of Xiamen University's Taiwan Research Institute, said Xi's promise of semi-autonomy was a way to pressure Taiwan's leader - whoever that will be - to accept the One-China Principle.

In November, Ms Tsai's political party saw a heavy setback in regional elections perceived by Beijing as a blow to her separatist stance.

At the same time, Taiwan has developed a vibrant democratic system and a deepening sense of local identity that is distinct from China - and, for some, hostile to the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

The implementation of the "one country, two systems" policy in Hong Kong has deprived its people of freedom and the rule of law - something the people of Taiwan will never accept, the MAC said.

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