BEIJING : Beijing stepped up its rhetoric against Taiwanese independence on Saturday, with Premier Li Keqiang warning against ‘separatist activities’ on the island and pledging to safeguard China's ‘territorial integrity’.
Li's comments at the opening of the mainland's NPC parliament came weeks after Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Beijing-sceptic Democratic People's Party, was elected Taiwan's next president.
Beijing will ‘oppose separatist activities for the independence of Taiwan’ and ‘safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity’, Li told the Communist-controlled legislature. Both clauses were additions to the remarks he made on the issue at last year's NPC, when the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang of current leader Ma Ying-jeou was still hoping to retain power in Taipei.
China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war but Beijing still considers the self-ruled island part of its territory awaiting reunification, and has an estimated 1,500 missiles aimed at stopping Taiwan from declaring independence.
Beijing has repeatedly asserted its belief in the ‘1992 consensus’, which says that there is only ‘one China’, despite allowing Taiwan to make its own interpretation.
But the DPP - which does not recognise either the ‘one China’ principle or the ‘consensus’ - triumphed in the island's January parliamentary and presidential elections as voters turned their backs on closer ties with the mainland.