Jan 1, 2024 - World

Xi vows China and Taiwan will "surely be reunified" in New Year's speech

People watch Xi's address at a restaurant in Beijing. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

In an ominous start to 2024, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his New Year's address that "reunification" with Taiwan is inevitable — a stronger tone than he used last year.

Why it matters: Beijing claims the self-governing island and its recent military exercises and build-up have raised alarms over a potential invasion. With President Biden vowing to defend Taiwan, that scenario could lead to a superpower confrontation.

What he's saying: "The reunification of the motherland is a historical inevitability," Xi said.

  • The official English translation used a simpler phrase: "China will surely be reunified."

Between the lines: Xi has repeatedly insisted that unification is inevitable, by force if necessary.

The other side: Outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, who has strengthened ties with Washington and at times enraged Beijing, warned against interference in the election in her own New Year's address.

  • A win by Lai Ching-te of the ruling DPP would further solidify the U.S.-Taiwan relationship but enrage the Chinese government, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian writes.
  • While Lai leads in the polls, Hou Yu-ih of the opposition KMT — which advocates dialogue with Beijing — has narrowed the gap ahead of the Jan. 13 vote, per the Economist's poll tracker.

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