Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday pledged to complete “reunification” with Taiwan and vowed to “smash” any attempts at formal independence, drawing a stern rebuke from Taipei, which lambasted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a dictatorship.
China, which considers independent Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up efforts under Xi to assert its sovereignty claims, including regular flights by fighter jets and bombers close to the nation.
“Solving the Taiwan question and realizing the complete reunification of the motherland are the unswerving historical tasks of the CCP and the common aspiration of all Chinese people,” Xi said in a speech on the centennial of the party.
“All sons and daughters of China, including compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, must work together and move forward in solidarity, resolutely smashing any ‘Taiwan independence’ plots,” he added.
In Taipei, the Mainland Affairs Council said that while the CCP had achieved “certain economic development,” it remained a dictatorship that trampled on people’s freedoms, and should embrace democracy instead.
“Its historical decisionmaking errors and persistent harmful actions have caused serious threats to regional security,” it added.
Taiwanese have rejected the “one China” principle, and Beijing should abandon its military intimidation and talk with Taipei on an equal footing, the council said.
“Our government’s determination to firmly defend the nation’s sovereignty and Taiwan’s democracy and freedom and to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait remains unchanged,” it said.
While China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, Xi called for a process of “peaceful reunification.”
Still, he said that nobody should “underestimate the Chinese people’s strong determination, firm will, and formidable ability to defend national sovereignty.”
Xi has presented a defiant face to overseas rivals, revving up nationalist sentiment. He has batted back criticism of his government’s actions in Hong Kong, attitude toward Taiwan and treatment of Uighurs.
He has purged rivals and crushed dissent — from the Uighurs and online critics to democracy protests on Hong Kong’s streets.
The party has pivoted to new challenges: It has used tech to renew its appeal to younger generations — 12.55 million members are aged 30 or younger — while giving a communist finish to a consumer economy.
On Beijing’s streets, there was praise for the party:
A man surnamed Wang, 42, said: “When I was a child there was a blackout for one hour every night and electricity shortages. Now the streets are full of light. Food, clothes, education, traffic are all better.”
In its 100th year, the party has delivered a selective version of history through films, “red tourism” campaigns and books, which dance over the mass violence of the Cultural Revolution, famines and the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Instead, it has drawn attention to China’s rebound from COVID-19, but reminders linger of the risks to stability.
Yesterday also marked the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule — a date once met with mass demonstrations against Beijing inside the territory.
One year ago, China imposed its National Security Law on the territory.
Yesterday, four democracy advocates marched with a banner near the official anniversary reception — tailed by 200 police officers.
“The CCP can go to hell,” said a Hong Konger who gave his name only as Ken. “Anything that’s worthwhile, they destroy.”
Additional reporting by AFP
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