Xi urges Taiwan's business community to shun independence

BEIJING • Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Taiwan's business community to shun any idea of independence for their island and to promote peace and stable ties with the mainland, state media reported.

"Friends in the island's business community should take a stand and firmly maintain the 1992 Consensus, oppose Taiwan independence and firmly promote the peace and stability of cross-strait relations," Mr Xi told the chairman of a foundation that promotes trade between China and Taiwan yesterday.

The 1992 Consensus refers to an agreement reached that year that both sides are part of "one China", a cherished principle in Beijing.

Ties between China and self-ruled Taiwan have been frosty since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a Taiwan election in 2016, defeating the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) party.

Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control.

Mr Xi made the remarks to Mr Vincent Siew, a former vice-president of Taiwan when it was under KMT rule and head of the Taiwan-based Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation, on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan.

Ties between Beijing and self-ruled Taiwan have been frosty since the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party won a Taiwan election in 2016, defeating the nationalist Kuomintang party. Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control.

"The Taiwan problem is of great concern for the basic interests of the Chinese nation," Mr Xi told Mr Siew, according to a report of their talk from the official People's Daily newspaper.

"We hope that compatriots across the strait can together shoulder the virtuous cause of the nation and push for the peaceful reunification of the motherland."

Mr Xi said in a speech to China's annual meeting of Parliament last month that Taiwan would face the "punishment of history" for any attempts at separatism, his strongest warning on the issue yet.

China fears DPP leader and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will push for formal independence, though Ms Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to peace.

Taiwan's China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council, responding to Mr Xi's latest comments, urged Beijing to abandon its requirement for Taiwan to accept a "one-sided political position" before engaging in exchanges and talks.

Overtures by US President Donald Trump's administration to strengthen ties with the island have ratcheted up the tension.

China said on Monday that it opposed the United States selling weapons to Taiwan, after the Trump administration approved the marketing licence required for US manufacturers to sell technology to Taiwan that would allow for the building of submarines.

"China's military has the ability and determination to defeat all attempts to separate our country, and will adopt all necessary measures to resolutely defend national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity," said Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2018, with the headline 'Xi urges Taiwan's business community to shun independence'. Print Edition | Subscribe