Xi said China will never give up its right to use force against Taiwan

BEIJING/TAIPEI, Oct 16 (Reuters) – It is up to the Chinese people to resolve the Taiwan issue, President Xi Jinping said on Sunday, adding that China would never give up its right to use force but would strive for a peaceful solution. A major party meeting.

Taiwan, which China regards as its own territory, responded that it would not back down on its sovereignty or compromise on freedom and democracy.

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei rose dramatically in August after China conducted military exercises near Taiwan following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Those military operations continued at a slower pace.

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Addressing the opening of the ruling Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress in Beijing, Xi said China will always “respect, care and benefit” the Taiwanese people and is committed to promoting economic and cultural exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

“Resolving the Taiwan issue is the Chinese people’s own business, and the Chinese people should decide that,” he said.

“We insist on the possibility of peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and best efforts, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force and to reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.”

That option is “interference” by outside forces and targets a “very small number” of Taiwan independence supporters rather than the majority of Taiwanese people, Xi said.

“As the historical wheels of national reunification and national revival roll forward, the complete reunification of the motherland must and must be achieved!” For long applause, add.

Taiwan’s presidential office responded that the Republic of China – the island’s official name – is a sovereign and independent country.

“Taiwan’s position is firm: no retreat on national sovereignty, no compromise on democracy and freedom, and meeting on the battlefield is not an option on either side of the Taiwan Strait,” it said in a statement.

“This is the consensus of the Taiwanese people,” the president’s office said, adding that the National Security Council is closely monitoring developments in Congress.

In his National Day speech on Monday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said war between Taiwan and China was not an option and reiterated his willingness to talk with Beijing, even as he promised to increase Taiwan’s security.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Cheng-Chang – who imposed sanctions last year on China’s claims of separatism – said Xi should focus on his own people.

“Xi Jinping should focus on the smoke and protest banners on Xidong Bridge in Beijing, rather than thinking about always using force to deal with Taiwan,” he said, referring to the rare banners of political protest on an overpass in Beijing on Thursday.

China considers Tsai a separatist and refuses to talk to her.

Beijing has granted Taiwan a “one country, two systems” model of autonomy, the same formula it applies to Hong Kong. But all major Taiwanese political parties have rejected the proposal and opinion polls show it lacks public support.

Taiwan says only its people can decide their future, and Beijing’s claims are invalid because the People’s Republic of China does not rule any part of the island.

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Ben Blanchard; Editing: William Mallard

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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