President Xi Jinping vowed on Friday in a speech at the Great Hall of the People to oppose all forms of separatism in China.
Xi’s comments came during commemorations to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sun Yat-sen, who oversaw the end of millennia of imperial rule in China.
Xi held up Sun as a model for defending national unity and used the occasion to underscore China’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and stamp out any attempt to divide the nation.
“All activities that intend to divide the country will certainly be firmly opposed by all Chinese people. We will never allow any one, any organisation, any party to split off any tract of territory from China anytime, or in any way,” Xi said.
Sun, who founded the Republic of China after the Qing Dynasty was toppled in the 1911 revolution, is also revered in Taiwan, which the mainland considers a breakaway province which has split from the rest of the nation.
Ties between the two sides have been strained since the independence-leaning Demcractic Progressive Party took power earlier this year.
Xi’s comments also come amid the controversy over the oaths taken by two localist legislators in Hong Kong.
President Xi reiterated Beijing’s long-held stance that the “1992 consensus” was the political foundation of cross-strait relations with Taiwan and urged people on both sides of the strait to oppose pro-independence forces on the island.
The consensus is a tacit understanding reached with Taiwan’s then Kuomingtang government that there is only “one China”, but it leaves both sides to interpret what it constitutes.
“We are willing to associate with any party, group or individual in Taiwan that recognises the 1992 consensus and agree that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China, no mater what their former proposition was in the past,” Xi said.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng said on the eve of Xi’s speech that the council hoped the mainland’s commemoration of Sun would “stay true to historical facts”.
“[We] hope the mainland faces squarely the objective reality of the existence of the Republic of China, and Taiwan people’s persistence in democracy,” Chiu was quoted a saying by the island’s Central News Agency.
The 150th anniversary of Sun’s birth is on Saturday, but commemorations were held in Beijing the day before.