Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that the people of Taiwan ought to accept peaceful reunification with the mainland as an inevitability while adding the important caveat that Beijing still reserves the right to use force to achieve this aim.
Tsai spoke at Taiwan's Presidential Office in Taipei Wednesday, after Xi spoke in Beijing's Great Hall of the People to commemorate the 40th anniversary of "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan", a policy document issued on the day the U.S. and China established formal diplomatic relations that proposed dialogue and exchanges between the two countries, not military confrontation.
President Xi acknowledged the difference in the political systems of China and Taiwan, but dismissed it being an obstacle, saying the one-country-two-systems model will ensure the "social systems and lifestyles of Taiwan compatriots will be fully respected".
Taiwan and China split in a civil war that brought the Communists to power in China in 1949.
But the Chinese leader also sounded a stern warning: Agitate for independence and face China's military wrath.
In his first major speech for the new year, President Xi gave a definitive outline of the future of China-Taiwan relations, assuring the Taiwanese their rights and interests would be protected, while appealing to their emotions as ethnic Chinese who should rightfully be bonded to the motherland.
At the same time, he said China has offered economic opportunities for Taiwan and that China "does not attack Chinese people".
His speech marked the 40th anniversary of the statement from the standing committee of China's National People's Congress calling for unification with Taiwan.
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These "musts", she said, form the "most basic and most key foundation for the positive development of relations between Taiwan and China".
Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, said Tuesday that the Taiwanese want to retain their self-rule and autonomy.
"We are willing to create a vast space for peaceful unification, but we will never leave any room for any sort of Taiwan independence separatist activities", Xi said.
Tsai responded to Xi by explicitly stating her framework of "Four Musts": Along with recognizing the ROC's existence and the commitment of its citizenry to democratic values, Tsai said cross-strait disputes must be handled "on a basis of equality" and government or government-authorized representatives must be present for any negotiations between the two sides.
"It's so obvious that they're trying to assimilate Hong Kong into wider mainland China in every way".
Despite much publicity over 152 missing Vietnamese tourists, Taipei's efforts to replace the decline in tourist arrivals from the mainland have apparently paid off. Arguably, an additional 1 or 2 million tourists might have arrived had it not been for Beijing's discouragement, although a major push to attract other visitors might not have been implemented.
"The majority of Taiwan's public opinion also adamantly rejects "One country, two systems", and also the "Taiwan consensus".
MOFA urged the global community to maintain its support for Taiwan and help it to continue to serve as a beacon in the Asia-Pacific region.