Taiwan cannot accept becoming part of China under its "one country, two systems" offer of autonomy , President Tsai Ing-wen said yesterday, strongly rejecting China's sovereignty claims and likely setting the stage for an ever worsening of ties.
China responded that "reunification" was inevitable and that it would never tolerate Taiwan's independence.
In a speech after being sworn in for her second and final term in office, Tsai said relations between Taiwan and China had reached an historical turning point.
"Both sides have a duty to find a way to coexist over the long term and prevent the intensification of antagonism and differences," she said.
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party won January's presidential and parliamentary elections by a landslide, vowing to stand up to China, which claims Taiwan as its own and says it would be brought under Beijing's control by force if needed.
"Here, I want to reiterate the words 'peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue'. We will not accept the Beijing authorities' use of 'one country, two systems' to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo. We stand fast by this principle," Tsai said.
China's Taiwan Affairs Office, responding to Tsai, said Beijing would stick to "one country, two systems".
"Reunification is a historical inevitability of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," it said. "We have the firm will, full confidence, and sufficient ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Taiwan has become a rising source of friction between China and the United States, with the Trump administration strongly backing Taiwan even in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.