On Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against “interference” from outside forces on the issue of Taiwan during a speech opening the 20th National Congress for China’s Communist Party.
Xi’s speech did not mark a change in policy for Taiwan, and he didn’t mention the US, but his warning against interference comes as Washington is going to great lengths to increase support for the island.
Xi reiterated Beijing’s policy that it seeks peaceful “reunification” with Taiwan but that it will not rule out the use of force. “This is directed solely at interference by outside forces and the few separatists seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and their separatist activities; it is by no means targeted at our Taiwan compatriots,” Xi said.
Tensions have been high in the region since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taiwan in early August. China warned strongly against the trip and reacted by holding its largest-ever military exercises around the island, which included a simulated blockade.
Chinese officials have warned explicitly that US support for Taiwan’s “independence forces” could lead to war in the region, but that hasn’t slowed Washington’s plans to turn the island into a weapons depot. US lawmakers in the Senate are trying to push through a piece of legislation that would give Taiwan $6.5 billion in military aid and includes other measures that would radically change US policy toward Taipei.
While Xi didn’t mention the US by name in his speech, he made a veiled reference to the sanctions and other pressure China has faced from the West since the last National Congress was held five years ago, calling it “external blackmail, containment, blockade, and extreme pressure.” The Chinese leader is expected to secure his third term during the National Congress, which will be held throughout the week.