© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Honor guards lower Taiwan’s flag during sunset at Freedom Square in Taipei, Taiwan, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo
By Martin Quin Pollard
BEIJING (Reuters) – China is ready to make the biggest effort to pursue peaceful “reunification” with Taiwan, a Chinese government spokesman said on Wednesday, after weeks of military maneuvers and war games by Beijing near the island.
China claims that Taiwan is democratically governed as its own territory. Taiwan’s government rejects China’s claims to sovereignty and says only the island’s residents can decide their future.
China has been conducting drills near Taiwan since early last month, after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, including firing missiles into waters near the island.
Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, told a news conference in Beijing ahead of the Communist Party’s once-every-five-year congress that China is ready to exert its utmost efforts to achieve peaceful “reunification”.
“The motherland must be reunited and will inevitably be reunited,” Ma said.
China’s determination to protect its territory is unwavering, he added.
China has proposed a “one country, two systems” model for Taiwan, similar to the formula by which the former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Ma said Taiwan could have a “social system different from the mainland” that would ensure respect for their way of life, including religious freedom, but this was “under the precondition of ensuring national sovereignty, security and development interests”.
All of Taiwan’s main political parties have rejected the proposal and it has almost no public support, according to opinion polls, especially after Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 after the city was rocked by sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests. protests.
China has also never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, passing a law in 2005 that gives the country the legal basis to take military action against Taiwan if it secedes or appears to be about to secede.
China has refused to talk to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen since she first took office in 2016, believing her to be a separatist. She repeatedly offered to talk on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
But Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, held a landmark meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in 2015.
Speaking at the same press conference, Qiu Kaiming, head of the research department at the party’s Taiwan work office, said the Xi-Ma meeting showed their “strategic flexibility” towards Taiwan.
It “showed the world that the Chinese on both sides of the Straits are absolutely wise and capable enough to solve their own problems,” he added.
Taiwan’s government says the island was never ruled by the People’s Republic of China, and its claims to sovereignty are invalid.