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Taiwan independence would lead to "disaster", Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, pledging efforts for peaceful "reunification" with the self-ruled island but warning China would not renounce the use of force.

But Mr. Xi's offer of "one country two systems" for Taiwan is an important indicator that this will form the thrust of China's efforts in coming years, said Li Zhenguang, professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University.

Xi said in a speech devoted to Taiwan on Wednesday that no one or no party can stop the trend toward unification, and that independence for the self-governing island is a dead end.

Chinese President Xi Jinping listens to a speech during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Getty
Chinese President Xi Jinping used his speech to say that reunification with Taiwan was inevitable. Getty Images

The year 2018 was a challenging one for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as they suffered major losses in the November elections amid a stagnant economy, flat wages, unpopular reforms, election interference from the mainland, and aggressive shows of force by China's military.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the people of Taiwan to accept it "must and will be" reunited with China.

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. As part of the government's New Southbound Policy, visitors from six Southeast Asian countries were allowed visa-free entry to Taiwan if they held a resident card or visa for Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, any European Union or Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, or the USA that had expired less than 10 years prior to their date of arrival.

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"Nobody, and no party, can change the historical and legal that Taiwan is part of China and that both sides of the strait belong to China", Xi said in Beijing.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war that brought the communists to power on the mainland in 1949.

Beijing considers the island to be a breakaway province and Mr Xi's comments are in line with China's long-standing policy towards reunification. The rival Nationalists set up their own government on Taiwan, an island 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the Chinese mainland.

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

Most Taiwanese say in polls they oppose Xi's goal of unification, and the Communist leadership doesn't recognize the autonomy of Taiwan.

He 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. He also noted that Beijing is ready for talks, albeit on the condition that Taiwanese authorities accept the "one China" principle.

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"With the current situation between China and Taiwan, I don't think there is that foundation of trust for any kind of in-depth discussion of debate on these issues", said Raymond Wu, managing director of Taipei-based political risk consultancy e-telligence, referring to Tsai's ideas.


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