Stay vigilant over Taiwan separatists: Xi

Stay vigilant over Taiwan separatists: Xi

President Xi Jinping called for "firm opposition" to pro-independence forces in Taiwan on Wednesday, while stressing the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties.

Pro-independence forces are the biggest obstacle to the peaceful development of ties between the two sides and the biggest threat to the cross-Straits peace and stability, Xi said.

He made the comments during a panel discussion with members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference whose annual session is being held in Beijing.

"The separatist forces of 'Taiwan independence' and their activities threaten national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Xi said.

"They intend to provoke the opposition of people and society across the Straits and to sever the psychological bond of the cross-Straits compatriots."

His remarks come after the island's ruling party, the Kuomin-tang, lost a series of traditional strongholds in local elections in November.

Cross-Straits ties have improved markedly since the party regained the leadership of Taiwan in 2008. But its poor electoral showing last year has made the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which is pro-independence, a strong contender in the 2016 "presidential" election.

Xi underscored the landmark 1992 Consensus between the island and the Chinese mainland, saying no obstacle exists to exchanges between any political parties and groups in Taiwan and the mainland as long as there is shared consensus that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and same China.

Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies, said Xi has articulated Beijing's cross-Straits policy at a sensitive time, and also the great importance the leadership attaches to the ties, and the damage caused by pro-independence forces.

The president, who spent more than a decade working in Fujian province, which lies across the Straits from Taiwan, said the mainland is committed to a peaceful cross-Straits policy and to bringing benefits to people on both sides of the waterway.

"We are willing to learn Taiwan compatriots' thoughts and needs. ... The mainland's development will generate more opportunities, and we would like to let Taiwan compatriots share the opportunities," he said.

Xi said the key factor deciding the direction of cross-Straits ties is the mainland's development and progress.

The mainland is the island's largest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching $198.31 billion last year, a year-on-year increase of 0.6 per cent.

Yang Jian, a national political adviser and vice-chairman of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, called for increased exchanges between the mainland and "third forces" whose influence has been increasing.

Ji Bin, deputy head of the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots, suggested that young people from Taiwan should be encouraged to start businesses on the mainland.

Ji, who is also a national political adviser, said that people from Taiwan who have worked or lived on the mainland for a long time should be treated in the same way as those who were born and raised on the mainland.

Observers said more Taiwan people want to work on the mainland, but they feel they would face difficulties in medical care and their children's education.

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