© Reuters. National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing
BEIJING (Reuters) – China will firmly deter any separatist activity that seeks independence from Taiwan, but is committed to promoting the peaceful growth of cross-Strait relations and the “reunification” of China, Prime Minister Li said on Friday. Keqiang. China, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, has increased its military activity near the island in recent months, responding to what it calls “collusion” between Taipei and Washington, Taiwan’s main international sponsor and arms supplier. At the opening of the annual meeting of the Chinese parliament, Li said that Beijing upholds the “one China” principle, which establishes that Taiwan is part of China. China remains committed to “promoting the peaceful growth of cross-strait relations and the reunification of China,” he told approximately 3,000 delegates at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. “We will remain very vigilant and resolutely deter any separatist activity that seeks independence from Taiwan,” Li added. “We will promote exchanges, cooperation and integrated development across the Taiwan Straits. Together we can shape a bright future of rejuvenation for our great nation.” The Taiwan Continental Affairs Council responded by urging China to initiate “benign” interactions with it to gradually resolve disagreements through communication, adding that they will continue to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty, democracy and freedom. “Healthy and orderly exchanges are better than the pressure placed on Taiwan,” he said. Most Taiwanese have shown no interest in being ruled by autocratic China and have also strongly supported anti-government protests in Chinese-led Hong Kong. Last year, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was overwhelmingly reelected on the promise of defending the island’s democracy and standing up to China. China believes that Tsai wishes to push for formal independence from Taiwan, a red line for the Chinese government that has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under Beijing’s control. Tsai says that Taiwan is already an independent country called the ROC, its formal name.