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China's Xi vows unity after Hong Kong move

November 11, 2016

Amid growing calls for independence in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the president has promised to protect the country's territorial integrity. In a rare move, Beijing banned two pro-independence Hong Kong lawmakers.

Commemoration event of Sun Yat-sen's 150th birthday
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/H.H. Young

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday vowed to stop separatist movements from violating the country's territorial integrity after Beijing took steps earlier this week to block two pro-independence lawmakers from taking office in Hong Kong.

"We will never allow any person, any group, any political party, at any time, in any way, to split from any part of China's territory," Xi said at Beijing's Great Hall of the People during a commemoration of 150 years since the birth of Sun Yat-sen, China's first president.

"To uphold our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, to never let our country split again and to never let history repeat itself - these are our solemn promises to our people and to our history," he added.

Xi called on Taiwanese officials to endorse the "1992 consensus," a pact that recognizes both mainland China and Taiwan as part of "one China," but providing both sides to interpret the ruler of this single entity.

'We are willing'

Since President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office in May, Beijing has cut official communication with Taiwan, who leads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

"Any Taiwanese political party, organization or individual - regardless of what they have advocated for in the past - as long as they recognize the '1992 consensus,' as long as they recognize the mainland and Taiwan are one China, we are willing to associate with them," Xi told officials and military officers at the commemoration.

The Chinese civil war effectively split the country into two de facto states, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China in Taiwan.

However, officials of the Beijing-leaning opposition Chinese Nationalist Party in 1992 agreed to recognize the "one China" principle, which led to a thaw in relations.

Meanwhile, China's parliament earlier this week passed a ruling that barred two legally elected pro-independence lawmakers from assuming office in Hong Kong, a rare intervention into the semi-autonomous city.

ls/kms (Reuters, AP)