Chinese President Xi Jinping has issued a strong warning to Taiwan and its incoming, independence-leaning government.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xi told delegates at the annual meeting of China’s parliament Sunday that Beijing would “resolutely contain Taiwan independence secessionist activities in any form,” and would never allow the “historical tragedy” of a split to occur again.
China and Taiwan have been split since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces fled the mainland after losing the civil war to Mao Zedong’s communist army. Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan a renegade province, and vows to bring the island back under its control – by force, if necessary.
Located about 180 kilometers off China’s southeastern coast, the island was under Japanese colonial rule until the end of World War II in 1945.
Xi’s warning is the latest issued to the self-ruled island since Tsai Ing-wen – the head of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party – won the presidency in January and led the DPP to a landslide legislative majority.
Tsai has said she wanted to maintain the current status of peace and stability between Beijing and Taipei after she took office in May.
Outgoing Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou signed a series of economic agreements with mainland China as leader of the pro-Beijing Nationalist party, and held a landmark summit with Xi Jinping in Singapore in November; the first face-to face meeting between the two sides since the 1949 civil war.
But an effort to push a controversial trade agreement through the legislature last year was met with violent protests by demonstrators angry over what they believed was Beijing’s growing influence on the island.