During his speech at the opening of the Chinese Communist Party congress, Chinese president Xi Jinping said the country was striving towards “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan – which China claims as its territory – but would not rule out the use of force.
“The resolution of the Taiwan issue is a matter for the Chinese ourselves to decide,” Xi said at the once-every-five-year event on Sunday Oct. 16. “We insist on striving for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and with the greatest effort.”
However, he added that China was not committed to abandoning the use of force and it “reserve[s] the option of taking all necessary measures”.
“As the wheels of history roll forward towards national reunification and the revival of the nation, the complete reunification of the motherland must be achieved and can definitely be achieved,” he said.
During his two-hour speech, he defended the Chinese government’s zero-COVID policy, saying it “protected people’s lives and health”, and praised the government’s crackdown on Hong Kong.
“In the face of the turbulent changes in the situation in Hong Kong, we have effectively exercised full control… resulting in a major turnaround in the situation in Hong Kong from chaos to governance,” he said.
The week-long CCP Party Congress is the most important gathering in Chinese politics every five years, and Xi is expected to be confirmed as the president of China for a third term in March.
This would make him the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
In response to Xi’s speech, Taiwan’s presidential office said on Sunday that Taiwan is a “sovereign and democratic country” and that the public opinion clearly rejects the “one country, two systems” idea, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
A presidential office spokesperson said that maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait was a shared responsibility between the two countries and that Taiwan is willing to work with Beijing based on rationality, equality and mutual respect, principles Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen highlighted in a speech on Taiwan’s National Day just days earlier on Oct. 10.