Xi's Wednesday address was notable for what it did not say: Gone was the bluster of his March 2018 speech, in which he said "not a single inch of our land" would be ceded from China and attempts to "split" China would be "punished by history".
Yesterday, in a message directed seemingly at the USA and pro-independence advocates, he made clear China will not tolerate foreign meddling and separatists, and will turn to military power, if necessary.
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.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has issued a new threat to use military force in Taiwan as Beijing intensifies efforts to achieve unification with the self-governing democratic region, holding up Hong Kong as a model for Taipei. While the president said "Chinese don't beat Chinese", he noted that the mainland was "not committed to renouncing the use of force".
Rejecting the defeat of her ruling Democratic Progressive Party in the November local elections as a signal that Taiwanese people would concede the nation's sovereignty and autonomy, President Tsai said her administration will embark on work to safeguard the nation's sovereignty and to reinforce its democratic system.
"I want to appeal to China that it must admit to the reality of Taiwan's existence and must respect our 23 million people's insistence on freedom and democracy". "That is the 'consensus of Taiwan, '" she said, the Taipei Times reports.
National rejuvenation - a Xi catchphrase for returning China to its former glory - remains the biggest overall goal for the current Chinese leadership, and unifying Taiwan may be seen as part of that project's road map, Tang said.
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Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and has heaped pressure on the island internationally, including whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.
"The issue of Taiwan is part of China's domestic politics".
Xi also said that China has the right to use force if necessary to answer interference by outside forces and what he called an extremely small number of Taiwanese separatists.
"Although the way ahead won't all be plain sailing, we have the confidence and the ability to vanquish risks and challenges", he said in a statement on the office's website.
China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists lost to Mao Zedong's Communists. Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan in December 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists.
Further eroding the chance of dialogue, the Taiwan president probably spoke Tuesday to deter Taiwan's opposition party mayors and magistrates from holding their own talks, said Shane Lee, political scientist with Chang Jung Christian University in Taiwan.
In mid-term elections a year ago, the DPP suffered losses causing Tsai to resign as party leader, while the pro-China opposition rival Kuomintang made gains.