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China says it will do all it can for Taiwan’s peaceful ‘reunification’

Beijing says the autonomous island is part of China and has been increasingly assertive about its claim.

Beijing says it is willing to do its best to fight for a peaceful “reunification” with Taiwan, after holding major military exercises around the island in recent weeks.

While China claims Taiwan as its territory, the island’s democratically elected government rejects the claims, saying it is up to the island’s 23 million people to decide its future.

Beijing has become increasingly assertive about Taiwan in recent years, and last month began sea and air drills that included firing missiles at the island following a visit to Taipei by the House Speaker. of the United States, Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi defied a series of stern threats to travel to the island, becoming the highest-profile US official to visit in 25 years and prompting other US and European politicians to do the same.

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Speaking at a press conference evaluating the past 10 years of cross-strait relations, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said China was willing to make all-out efforts to achieve a peaceful “reunification”, but that he was also “unbreakable”. in its commitment to safeguard its territory.

“The motherland must be reunified and will inevitably be reunified,” Ma said.

Beijing has stepped up its claim on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen was first elected president in 2016, claiming she is a “separatist” and refusing to engage with her. She has sought to isolate Taipei diplomatically and has not ruled out the use of force to bring the island under her control.

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It has also increasingly asserted its jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait, the 180 km (110 mile) wide channel that separates China from the island of Taiwan, with Chinese warships proving the unofficial maritime border.

The United States, which has diplomatic relations with Beijing but is committed to providing Taiwan with the means to defend itself, has opposed claims with “freedom of navigation” passages through the strait.

On Wednesday, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet announced that the destroyer USS Higgins, in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Vancouver, had conducted a “routine transit of the Taiwan Strait on September 20 (local time)…in accordance with international law.”

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“The ship transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of ​​any coastal state,” he said.

The Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Vancouver travels through the rough seas of the Taiwan Strait
The Canadian frigate HMCS Vancouver has joined an American destroyer to travel through the Taiwan Strait and assert international navigation rights. [Handout/US Navy via AFP]

China said it had tracked the two ships through the canal.

“The troops are always on high alert, resolutely counter all threats and provocations, and resolutely uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, told the CCTV state broadcaster.

The latest joint passage came a day after President Joe Biden again declared that US troops would come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, despite longstanding official policy of “strategic ambiguity.”

After Biden’s comments, the White House again said there was no change in US policy on Taiwan.

China has proposed that Taiwan be governed under the “one country, two systems” framework that was introduced to Hong Kong after the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

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Ma said Taiwan could have a “different social system from the mainland” that would ensure its way of life, including religious freedoms, would be respected, but that “under the precondition of ensuring national sovereignty, security and development interests.” “.

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All major Taiwanese political parties have rejected the proposal and it has almost no public support, according to opinion polls, especially after the imposition of Beijing’s national security law on Hong Kong in 2020.

Critics say the law had ‘decimated’ Hong Kong’s freedoms with thousands arrested, pro-democracy politicians disqualified from office or in exile, civil society groups shut down and press freedoms under pressure.

Beijing, echoed by Hong Kong authorities, says the law has restored stability after mass protests in 2019.

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