The 110th anniversary of the revolution in 1911 that led to the establishment of the first Chinese republic should have been cause for celebration on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Instead, the event was marked by tough talk from President Xi Jinping and the island’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, their speeches spelling out what was required of the other for good relations. With Xi calling for peaceful reunification and warning that those who opposed this would be “judged by history”, and Tsai repeatedly referring to Taiwan as if it was an independent entity, tensions remain high. There will be an easing only when the Taiwanese leadership gives up its go-it-alone ambitions and acknowledges that there is only one China, a point from which communications can resume. Xi spoke a day before the commemoration, invoking the beliefs of revolutionary leader Sun Yat Sen that “unification is the hope of all Chinese nationals”. Sun said that when there was unity, all would have a happy life, but without it, there would be suffering. Xi referred 25 times in his speech to the “great rejuvenation” of the nation and that secession aimed at Taiwanese independence posed the biggest danger. Since taking office in 2016, Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party have failed to recognise the 1992 consensus and the one-China principle. Beijing was understandably angered by Tsai’s speech, in which she said the island and the mainland should not be “subordinate to each other” , words inferring two separate countries. She said Taiwan should “resist annexation or encroachment upon our sovereignty” and that the island’s future should be determined by its people. This was a direct rebuff to Xi’s sentiments and at odds with the reality that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. A record number of People’s Liberation Army fighter jets entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in the lead-up to the anniversary, prompting the deployment of Taiwanese warplanes and missiles. Tsai was risking greater cross-strait instability with her speech. Her bravado is largely due to nurturing good relations with the United States, which she is counting on to protect the island. But although US President Joe Biden has maintained the Taiwan-friendly policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, he pledged in a recent video call with Xi to abide by Washington’s “one-China policy”, a fundamental principle of diplomatic ties between the countries. Tsai’s refusal to acknowledge that there is only one China is the cause of cross-strait tensions. Until she scraps her independence-minded rhetoric and policies, there is no chance of certainty and greater prosperity for Taiwanese.