In Brief

Xi Jinping warns Taiwan against push for independence

Chinese president says separatists will suffer the ‘punishment of history’

Chinese President Xi Jinping today issued his “strongest warning yet” to Taiwanese separatists pushing for formal independence from the mainland.

Speaking at the closing of China’s annual session of parliament, Xi said that the autonomous island region would face the “punishment of history” for any attempt at separatism, reports Reuters.

“All acts and tricks to split the motherland are doomed to failure and will be condemned by the people,” Xi told the National People’s Congress.

“Every inch of our great motherland’s territory cannot be separated from China.”

Taiwan has been self-governed since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, but has never formally declared independence from the People’s Republic of China, which it views as an illegitimate government. Beijing considers the island to be part of China, and refers to Taiwan’s democratic government as the Taiwan Authority.

This precarious situation has long been a source of tension between Taipei and Beijing, but now that Xi can potentially serve as president for life, “he can execute strategies that last decades rather than years”, such as regaining control of Taiwan, says CNN.

Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, told CNN that Xi may be looking to tighten his grip on the region.

“If Xi stays in power for another term, or even a fourth term, then I do think that there is growing pressure on him to achieve more,” Glaser said.

Hostility between Taiwan and China has increased since the 2016 election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who represents the island’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. Although Tsai has said she is committed to maintaining peace, Chinese leaders still suspect that she will advocate for separation.

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