China won't renounce force with regard to Taiwan reunification: Xi
Chinese President does not discount use of force to reunite with Taiwan but will strive for peaceful measures
BEIJING: China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful "reunification" with the self-ruled island, Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday.
Taiwan is China's most sensitive issue and is claimed by Beijing as its sacred territory. Mr Xi has stepped up pressure on the proudly democratic island since Ms Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party became president in 2016.
He has set great store by striving to resolving the "Taiwan issue", holding a landmark meeting with then Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou in 2015, just before Ms Tsai was elected.
Mr Xi spoke in Beijing on the 40th anniversary of the "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan", when China declared an end to what had been routine artillery bombardment of Taiwan-controlled offshore islands and offered to open up communication.
He said "reunification" must come under a "one China" principle that accepts Taiwan as part of China, anathema to supporters of Taiwan independence.
The vast majority of Taiwan's people are clearly aware that Taiwan independence would lead to a "grave disaster", Mr Xi said.
"China won't attack Chinese people. We are willing to use the greatest sincerity and expend the greatest hard work to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification," he said.
"We do not promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option to use all necessary measures" to achieve this goal and prevent Taiwan independence, he added.
This, though, was aimed at foreign forces that seek to interfere and the tiny minority of Taiwan independence forces and their activities, he said in what was likely a reference to the US, Taiwan's strongest backer.
Mr Xi reiterated that China was willing to talk with any party in Taiwan to push the political process - stalled by China since Ms Tsai took office - as long as it accepts the one China principle.
He sought to reassure people in Taiwan that there was nothing to fear from Chinese rule, even though most people there have shown no interest in being run by Beijing.
"After peaceful reunification, Taiwan will have lasting peace, and the people will enjoy good and prosperous lives."
Ms Tsai, who wants to maintain the status quo with China, said on Tuesday that China must use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Taiwan and respect its democratic values. - REUTERS