Chinese leader Xi Jinping promised on Saturday that there would be a peaceful reunification between China and Taiwan. However, tensions between the two countries have risen sharply recently, including due to Chinese military aircraft violating Taiwan’s airspace.
“Taiwanese separatism is the greatest obstacle to motherland unification,” Xi said in a speech celebrating the deposition of the last emperor of China in 1911. “Peaceful reunification is best for all Taiwanese .” After that, Xi said China would defend its sovereignty without explaining whether he meant violence.
Sunday is a public holiday in Taiwan, celebrating the founding of the Republic of China in 1949. That is the official name of Taiwan. The republic was founded by the fugitive government of China after the communists in China won the civil war. Taiwan is democratically governed.
The Taiwanese president spoke shortly after Xi’s statements. In a statement, Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan’s future belongs to the people. The country does not want to fall under Beijing’s sphere of influence. The Taiwanese Council on Chinese Affairs called on China to stop provoking, harassing, destroying and intruding.
Taiwan called military tensions with China the worst in 40 years. Xi described the mutual relations as “grim”.