Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has vowed to advance peaceful ties with Taiwan and "reunification," insisting that Beijing remains committed to the “one China” precept and opposes any foreign meddling.
Speaking at the opening of the annual meeting of China's parliament on Saturday, Li reiterated his government’s unwavering stance on the "one China" principle, which regards the self-ruled island territory as part of China, drawing a strong reproach from Taipei.
"We will advance the peaceful growth of relations across the Taiwan Strait and the reunification of China," Li underlined. "We firmly oppose any separatist activities seeking 'Taiwan independence' and firmly oppose foreign interference."
"All of us, Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, should come together to advance the great and glorious cause of China's rejuvenation," he added.
Reacting to the remarks, however, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council emphasized that China should focus more on addressing what he referred to as the real concerns of its people and promoting democracy rather than "undermining international rules and order."
"Taiwanese public opinion firmly opposes the political framework, military intimidation and diplomatic suppression imposed by China," the council further claimed. "Democratic Taiwan is a force for regional peace and stability."
Beijing, which regards Chinese Taipei as its own territory and does not rule out the use of force to bring the island territory under its control, has escalated its military maneuvers near the island over the past two years in response to the growing presence of US warships in the area, in addition to what it views as "collusion" between Taipei and Washington, Taiwan's principal international backer and weapons supplier.
Late last month, China denounced as “provocative” the passage of yet another US warship through the strategically-sensitive Taiwan Strait, which separates the self-ruled island from mainland China.
In a statement last Saturday, the US Navy's 7th Fleet claimed that Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson was conducting a “routine” transit through international waters.
Meanwhile, Liu Guoshen, an expert on Taiwan at China's Xiamen University, described Li's remarks as largely identical to previous years, saying, "No matter what games the United States or the Democratic Progressive Party (Taiwan's ruling party) play, they won't affect the resolve of the Chinese government on the line they have set for work on Taiwan."
The development came also a day after former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Biden administration to diplomatically recognize Taiwan as "a free and sovereign country.”
In a speech during an unofficial visit to the China-claimed island territory on Friday, the hawkish former top diplomat further claimed that offering Taiwan diplomatic recognition "can no longer be ignored, avoided or treated as secondary.”
"The United States government should immediately take necessary and long overdue steps to do the right and obvious thing: that is to offer the Republic of China, Taiwan, America's diplomatic recognition as a free and sovereign country," he added.
Pompeo also went on to assert that “taking over Taiwan” was a “necessary mission” meant to “boost Xi's egomaniacal claim of greatness, but indeed to solidify it."
Washington ended formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979 when it recognized the People's Republic of China, which sees Taiwan as a bone of contention in its ties with the US.
Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington and its allies against crossing its "red line", which it has repeatedly affirmed could trigger war.
The remarks came days after Beijing took strong exception to a visit to Taipei by a delegation of former US military officials who were apparently sent by US President Joe Biden.
Censuring the visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said “whoever United States sends to show support for Taiwan is bound to fail."
"The will of the Chinese people to defend our country's sovereignty and territorial integrity is immovable," he asserted.
Under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taipei.
The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island, but it constantly sells weapons to the island and deploys military vessels to the Taiwan Strait.