In a congratulations letter to the newly elected leader of Taiwan’s largest opposition party, who has committed to renew negotiations with Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping described the situation in the Taiwan Strait as “complex and grim.”
Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu was elected as the Kuomintang’s (KMT) leader on Saturday, promising to revive stalled high-level ties with China’s ruling Communist Party.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has increased military and political pressure on the democratically governed island to accept Chinese sovereignty, despite the fact that the majority of Taiwanese have expressed no desire to be governed by Beijing.
According to Xi’s letter to KMT, the two parties have had”good interactions” as a result of their shared opposition to Taiwan’s independence.
“At present, the situation in the Taiwan Strait is complex and grim. All the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation must work together with one heart and go forward together,” wrote Xi, who is also head of the Communist Party.
He expressed hope that both parties could cooperate on “seeking peace in the Taiwan Strait, seeking national reunification and seeking national revitalization”.
Chu, who was defeated by current President Tsai Ing-wen in the 2016 presidential election, responded to Xi by saying that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait were “all the children of the Yellow Emperor,” or Han Chinese.
After pushing anti-China policies, Chu criticised Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for escalating relations with Beijing.
Chu, who met Xi in China in 2015, said he hoped to “seek common ground and respect differences, increase mutual trust and geniality, strengthen exchanges and cooperation so as to allow the continued peaceful development of cross-strait relations”.
High-level talks with China stagnated during outgoing KMT leader Johnny Chiang’s 17-month tenure, owing to military concerns and Beijing’s assumption that the party was not fully committed to the principle of “one China.”
In addition to losing the 2016 election, the KMT was defeated in elections last year after failing to dispel DPP allegations that they were Beijing’s stooges.
China has refused to speak with Tsai, describing her as a separatist. She claims that Taiwan is already an independent country known as the Republic of China and that only Taiwanese people have the power to determine their own destiny.