Xi Jinping Pledges Reunification with Taiwan in New Year’s Message

January 1, 2024 12:57 PM
Xi Jinping delivering his 2024 New Year’s message on state television. Xinhua Photo

In his New Year message, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Taiwan will be reunified with China. Meanwhile, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met with his military commanders on the last day of 2023 and told them to annihilate North Korea’s enemies should they choose military confrontation with North Korea.

Xi’s New Year message largely focused on China’s civilian technology, commercial technology, cultural and sports achievements along with China’s economic recovery and pursue development and safeguard security in a year which marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He said China would continue to support Hong Kong and Macao.

“China will surely be reunified, and all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should be bound by a common sense of purpose and share in the glory of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Xi said though he did not hint when or how reunification would occur.

Taiwan will hold elections on Jan. 13, so far China has not carried out large scale activity around the island during the run up to the election. In his speech, Xi made no reference to the Chinese military or current world affairs in his message beyond saying, “As I speak to you, conflicts are still raging in some parts of the world. We Chinese are keenly aware of what peace means. We will work closely with the international community for the common good of humanity, build a community with a shared future for mankind, and make the world a better place for all.”

The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s 45th Chinese Naval Escort Task Force, comprising of destroyer CNS Urumqi (118), frigate CNS Linyi (547) and fleet oiler CNS Dongpinghu (902), operating in the Gulf of Aden, continues to stand apart from attacks conducted by Houthi forces. PLAN taskforces have operated in the region beginning in Dec. 2008 and have escorted over 7,200 merchant ships in the region – half of them being non-China flagged ships. In 2017 PLAN sailors rescued a Tuvalu flagged ship from pirates, arresting three pirates and freeing the captive crew. During the Chinese Ministry of National Defense monthly press conference on Thursday, MND spokesperson Snr. Col. Wu Quan dismissed news reports that China rejected a request for an escort by Urumqi by an Israel cargo ship as “completely fake news” when asked and did not elaborate further.

Xi’s message did not mention China’s claims in the South and East China Seas. China’s claims over those regions – along with the Taiwan issue – are expected again to come to the forefront in 2024, posing a challenge for the U.S. and its partners in the Indo-Pacific. In 2023, the China Coast Guard (CCG) operated aggressively against the Philippines in the vicinity of Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and ramped up CCG patrols in the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea held by Japan

Australian and Canadian ships and aircraft conducting U.N. sanction monitoring missions on North Korea have faced harassment from Chinese military ships and aircraft. China has claimed that air patrols conducted on the sanctions monitoring mission are covers for surveillance on China and continuously stated that its military had conducted itself safely and professionally regarding the sea and air incidents.

Kim Jung Un during a meeting with North Korean military leaders on Dec. 31, 2023. KCNA Photo

To the east, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un met with his top military commanders on Sunday at the office of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK) and told them to annihilate North Korea’s enemies should they choose military confrontation with North Korea.

“If the enemy opt for military confrontation and provocation against the DPRK, our army should deal a deadly blow to thoroughly annihilate them by mobilizing all the toughest means and potentialities without a moment’s hesitation” reported state-controlled KCNA.

The North Korean leader told his military commanders that the security environment on the Korean peninsula was inching closer to armed conflict and given the nature of the U.S. and other hostile forces’ military confrontation moves, it was urgent that the North Korean military further sharpen itself safeguarding the security and peace of the DPRK and perfect it’s military response posture.

Earlier during the WPK’s 9th Enlarged Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee held last week, Kim, in his address at the meeting lashed out against the United States, saying it had instigated South Korea and Japan in carrying out the U.S.’s hostile policy against North Korea and that the U.S. had been continuously introducing various nuclear strategic capabilities into the Korean peninsula such as a U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarine making a port call to South Korea for the first time in more than 40 years, the first landing of a nuclear-capable bomber in South Korea and the frequent dispatch of nuclear-powered carrier strike groups. Ballistic missile submarine USS Kentucky (SSBN-737) had called into South Korea in July while three Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) – the Nimitz CSG, Ronald Reagan CSG and Carl Vinson CSG, made separate port calls in 2023 while a B-52 landed in Korea on Oct.17. The North Korean leader stated in his speech that if the U.S. and South Korea forced a military confrontation, North Korea would use its nuclear deterrent capability “without hesitation”.

During his speech also Kim stated that North Korea would launch three more military satellites in 2024 to build upon the successful launch in November.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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