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Xi: China will ‘surely be reunified’ with Taiwan

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  • JU PENG/XINHUA VIA AP
                                In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year message in Beijing to ring in 2024.

    JU PENG/XINHUA VIA AP

    In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a New Year message in Beijing to ring in 2024.

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping said China would “surely be reunified” with Taiwan during his televised New Year’s address, renewing Beijing’s threats to take over the self-ruled island, which it considers its own.

Taiwan split from China amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing continues to regard the island of 23 million with its high-tech economy as Chinese territory and has been ramping up its threat to achieve that by military force if necessary.

“China will surely be reunified, and all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be bound by a common sense of purpose,” Xi said in his annual address, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

China has described Taiwan’s Jan. 13 presidential and parliamentary elections as a choice between war and peace.

Beijing considers the presidential front-runner, William Lai, who currently serves as vice president from the ruling Democratic People’s Party, a “separatist” and has accused him and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen of trying to provoke a Chinese attack on the island.

On Saturday, Chen Binhua, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, called Lai a “destroyer of peace” following a televised debate earlier that day in which Lai defended Taiwan’s right to rule itself as a democracy.

Chen said Lai’s discourse at the debate was “full of confrontational thinking,” adding that the vice president is “the instigator of a potential dangerous war in the Taiwan Strait.”

Lai had said during the debate that Taiwan is not subordinate to China and that he was open to communications with Beijing “as long as there is equality and dignity on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.” While Lai doesn’t describe himself as seeking independence from Beijing, he generally maintains Taiwan is already an independent country.

Lai’s election rivals include Hou Yu-ih from the more China-friendly Kuomintang party, and Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party.

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