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China’s Xi terms Taiwan reunification ‘inevitable’

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BEIJING: China’s “reunification” with Taiwan is inevitable, President Xi Jinping said in his New Year’s address on Sunday, striking a stronger tone than he did last year with less than two weeks to go before the Chinese-claimed island elects a new leader.

The Jan. 13 presidential and parliamentary elections come at a time of fraught relations between Beijing and Taipei, as China has been ramping up military pressure to assert its sovereignty claims over Taiwan.

China considers Taiwan to be its “sacred territory” and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Chinese control, though Xi made no mention of military threats in his speech carried on state television.

“The reunification of the motherland is a historical inevitability,” Xi said, though the official English translation of his remarks published by the Xinhua news agency used a more simple phrase: “China will surely be reunified”.

Despite disappointing numbers, Chinese president claims economy has ‘weathered the storm’

“Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be bound by a common sense of purpose and share in the glory of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he added. The official English translation wrote “all Chinese” rather than “compatriots”.

‘Resilient economy’

During his address, the Chinese president also said the country’s economy had grown “more resilient and dynamic” in 2023, despite financial figures continuing to disappoint as post-Covid recovery stalls.

Xi has endured a challenging 2023 at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy, with his administration struggling to sustain an economic rebound since rapidly dumping its onerous zero-Covid policy a year ago.

But he said on state broadcaster CCTV the economy had “weathered the storm” and become “more resilient and dynamic than before”, hailing the promotion of “high-quality development” and emerging industries such as electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar panels.

He said next year “we must… consolidate and enhance the positive trend of economic recovery, and achieve long-term economic stability”.

Yet he also acknowledged some hardship, saying “some companies are facing operating pressure (and) some people are encountering difficulties in employment and living conditions”.

“All of these things concern me greatly,” he said.

“Our goal is both ambitious and yet very simple. In the end, it is to help people live better lives.” Record youth unemployment and a persistent debt crisis in the crucial property sector have hemmed in China’s growth this year.

Official figures released on Sunday showed a decline in nationwide factory activity deepened in December, the third straight month of contraction.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2024


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