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China 's Hu calls for reunification with Taiwan

09 october 2011, 14:58
China's President Hu Jintao on Sunday called for Taiwan and the Chinese mainland to reunite, as he marked the 100th anniversary of the revolution that ended the nation's long imperial history, AFP reports.

Speaking at a ceremony attended by top Communist Party leaders -- including former President Jiang Zemin, who made his first public appearance since rumours emerged that he had died -- Hu also ruled out Taiwanese independence.

"Achieving reunification through peaceful means is what most suits Chinese people's fundamental interests, including Taiwan compatriots," he said.

"We must strengthen our opposition to Taiwanese independence... and promote close exchanges and cooperation between compatriots on both sides."

The ceremony at the Great Hall of the People marked the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty, bringing more than 2,000 years of nearly unbroken imperial history to an abrupt end.

The Republic of China then emerged, but it only lasted until 1949 on the mainland.

That year, the Communists took power and the remnants of the republic moved to Taiwan, which still calls itself the Republic of China although Beijing claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island.

"Working together to promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations... should be the goal of both sides," Hu said.

Relations between the two sides have improved markedly since the Beijing-friendly Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008.

China is Taiwan's largest trading partner, its largest investment destination, and now also home to a growing number of Taiwanese.

They, and thousands of short-term travellers, now have access to direct flights every week, whereas all air travel once had to go through Hong Kong.

But many Taiwanese are wary of the military threat posed by China, which has never given up on its goal of regaining the island, by force if necessary.

Jiang, meanwhile, was shown sitting at the ceremony -- broadcast live on state television -- looking frail and tired.

It was the 85-year-old's first appearance in public since rumours emerged in July that he had died, which eventually forced the state-run Xinhua news agency to issue a rare public denial.

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