Thursday 13 December 2018

Any move to seek independence is 'doomed', China warns Taiwan

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the National People’s Congress in Beijing yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the National People’s Congress in Beijing yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Jamie Fullerton

Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday said he was ready for a "bloody battle" against opponents of his country's march towards global supremacy and warned that China would never be divided in a nationalistic speech to close this year's National People's Congress.

Mr Xi, who is set to rule China for life having scrapped presidential term limits, lauded his vision of the "rejuvenation of the Chinese nation".

He also sent strong warnings to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that the Communist Party of China (CPC) seeks to unify politically with the mainland, saying that any efforts made towards their independence would be "doomed".

He spoke in front of around 3,000 CPC delegates, who had dutifully and unanimously voted to give him a second term as president at the largely ceremonial event.

In the cavernous Great Hall next to Tiananmen Square in the Chinese capital, Mr Xi declared: "The Chinese people have been indomitable and persistent, we have the spirit of fighting the bloody battle against our enemies to the bitter end."

Mr Xi has declared a "new era" for China via "socialism with Chinese characteristics".

The government's aim, largely through increased military clout and technological advances, is to turn China into a top innovative country by 2035 and a "modern socialist nation" on par with the US by 2050.

It came as Donald Trump reportedly intends to introduce tariffs worth up to $60bn (€49bn) a year on products from China. The move would be a response to what the US has called intellectual property theft. The US president's officials had given him a plan for $30bn in tariffs but he ordered them to roughly double it, the 'Washington Post' reported.

That may include tariffs on more than 100 products made by China using information taken from the US. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang yesterday called on the US to not act "emotionally" and to avoid a trade war.

Despite his ambitions, Mr Xi said that China, which has been building military facilities in disputed territory in the South China Sea and has established military bases on recognised foreign soil since he became president in 2012, would not seek expansion.

"Only those who are accustomed to threatening others will see everyone as a threat," he said.

He underlined that seeking independence for any region Beijing considers part of China was a red-line issue. As state media TV cameras honed in on delegates from Taiwan, Mr Xi said: "All acts and tricks to separate the country are doomed to fail and will be condemned by the people and punished by history... the Chinese people share a common belief that it is never allowed and it is absolutely impossible to separate any inch of our great country's territory from China."

Many commentators on Chinese social media suggested that by pushing through the abolition of presidential term limits, the president has turned himself into an emperor-like figure.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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