President Xi Jinping made his first public comments on Friday regarding cross-strait relations since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May, underscoring Beijing’s firm opposition towards independence for the island. “We firmly oppose the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” Xi, the Communist Party’s general secretary, said at the ceremony to mark the party’s 95th anniversary. “The more than 1.3 billion Chinese people and the whole country will not tolerate secessionist activities by any person, at any time and in any form.” Beijing expresses dissatisfaction after Taiwan’s new President Tsai Ing-wen swaps ‘consensus’ for ‘historic fact’ Xi also stressed that peaceful development of cross-strait relations could only be ensured if they were founded on the “1992 consensus”, a reference that analysts said was another attempt by Beijing to push Tsai and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party to recognise the deal. The consensus refers to an understanding reached in 1992 by representatives of the two sides in Hong Kong. It states that both sides agree there is only “one China” but that each have their own interpretation of what that stands for. Beijing has also said it opposes any suggestion of China and Taiwan as two separate sovereign entities. Tsai was sworn as the self-ruled island’s new president on May 20. The mainland said it had stopped both official and semi-official communication mechanisms with Taiwan since then because Tsai failed to take a clear stand on the consensus in her inauguration speech. Beijing described the speech as an “incomplete test paper”. Beijing raises economic red flag over Tsai Ing-wen’s ‘refusal’ on cross-strait consensus Li Fei, deputy director of Xiamen University’s Taiwan Research Centre, said that in addition to Tsai’s ambiguity on the consensus, Beijing was unhappy that Tsai had used the title of “President of Taiwan”, and not “President of the Republic of China” during her first officials trip to South American allies Panama and Paraguay. The Republic of China is the official name of the island’s regime. Taipei-based political commentator Wang Hsing-ching, known by his pseudonym Nan Fang-shuo, said Xi’s remarks could be seen as a warning that the mainland would take further action to punish Taiwan if Tsai continued to be evasive on cross-strait policy. “It’s a fact that Taiwan’s economy has not improved and even declined since Tsai came to power because Beijing has deliberately cut the number of mainland tourists to the island,” Wang said.