President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China declared on Sunday that the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will "never" renounce the right to use force over Taiwan.
During a speech opening the CCP's 20th party congress in the capital city of Beijing, Xi claimed that China has always "respected, cared for and benefited" the people of Taiwan, but that resolving the tension is "the Chinese people's own business."
"Resolving the Taiwan issue is the Chinese people's own business, and it [is] up to the Chinese people to decide," he said, according to Reuters.
Xi then emphasized that while he strives for "peaceful reunification," using force is not out of the question.
"We insist on striving for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and best efforts, but we will never promise to give up the use of force and reserve the option to take all necessary measures."
The prospect of using force is directed at "interference" from external parties, and a "very small number" of supporters of Taiwanese independence, not the majority of the Taiwanese people, said the president.
"The historical wheels of national reunification and national rejuvenation are rolling forward, and the complete reunification of the motherland must be achieved, and it must be achieved!"
According to Chinese state-affiliated media outlet Global Times, his remarks prompted "long and loud applause in the meeting hall."
In response, the presidential office of Taiwan declared that the island is a sovereign and independent country.
"Taiwan's position is firm: no backing down on national sovereignty, no compromise on democracy and freedom, and meeting on the battlefield is absolutely not an option for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait," it said in a statement.
"This is the consensus of Taiwan's people," the office stated, adding that the national security team was keeping a close eye on developments at the congress.
Tensions between China and Taiwan spiked in August, as China's military activity rose following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the territory.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Monday that war was "absolutely not an option," and reiterated her openness to have talks with Beijing, reported the AP.
"I want to make clear to the Beijing authorities that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option for our two sides," Tsai said during her speech honoring Taiwan’s National Day. "Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait."
China reportedly refuses to communicate with Tsai, as they consider her a separatist.
On Sunday, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters that Xi should focus on his own people.
Referring to rare protest banners with messages such as "Remove the traitor-dictator Xi Jinping!" that were hung on an overpass in Beijing on Thursday, Su said, "Xi Jinping should pay attention to the smoke and protest banners on the Sitong Bridge in Beijing, rather than always thinking about using force to deal with Taiwan."
The CCP put sanctions on Su last year, also saying that he is a separatist.
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