China makes Taiwan warning
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has warned against separatist inclinations and foreign meddling in Taiwan, which Beijing considers to be under its sovereignty. China wants to develop peaceful ties and ultimately reunify with the island, the official told an annual parliamentary session on Saturday.
“All of us, Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, should come together to advance the great and glorious cause of China’s rejuvenation,” the premier said.
The head of the Chinese cabinet made the remarks as he was delivering his working report to members of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), which they are to approve. The NPC and a separate advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), launched their two-week annual sessions on Friday.
The annual sessions are usually used by the ruling Communist Party to outline economic and military plans for China. This year’s gatherings are remarkable since later in the year President Xi Jinping is expected to continue his leadership of the country for an unprecedented third term.
Taiwan has been administering itself since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, during which defeated nationalist forces retreated to the island. Taipei claims to be representing the will of the Chinese people, but most of the world recognizes Beijing in that role under the so-called “One China policy.”
Tensions over Taiwan have been ramping up over the past few years amid new arms sales by Washington and visits of semi-official American delegations, which Beijing sees as undermining its claims to the island. China has ramped up military activities around Taiwan, stating that it was acting to balance similar moves by the US.
Lately, there was speculation in Western media that Beijing may attempt to take over the island by force amid the security crisis in Europe caused by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Beijing refused to condemn Moscow for its offensive and accused the US and NATO of paving the way for hostilities by ignoring Russian national security concerns. Moscow said its attack was necessary to curb threats emanating from Ukraine due to NATO’s creeping expansion into Ukraine.
Other parts of Li’s remarks, which covered Beijing’s relationship with Hong Kong, were notably devoid of condemnations of foreign meddling, which have been common in speeches by Chinese officials since the mass anti-government protests and rioting that gripped the autonomous city in 2019. He instead focused on the potential of economic growth for Hong Kong, Macao and other Chinese cities in the Greater Bay Area.