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A rally demanding independence for Taiwan in Taipei on May 7. Beijing’s relations are frosty with the independence-leaning ruling party across the strait. Photo: EPA

Xi urges Taiwanese business lobby to back ‘one China’ principle

Letter from president urges group to help promote unity between Beijing and Taipei


President Xi Jinping urged a Taiwanese business lobby to support the “one China” principle and contribute to unity between Beijing and Taipei, state media said on Monday.

Beijing has regarded Taiwan as a renegade province to be recovered by force, if necessary, since defeated Nationalists fled there in 1949, following the loss of a civil war to the Communists.

Beijing is deeply suspicious of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office just over a year ago, believing she wants to push the island towards formal independence. She says she wants to maintain peace with the mainland.

Beijing suspects that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen wants to push for formal independence. Photo: AP

The mainland welcomed Taiwanese investment, Xi told the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland in a letter on its tenth anniversary, Xinhua reported.

Xi urged the body to make “unremitting efforts to contribute to the realisation of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people [and] wide unity with Taiwan compatriots [by] supporting the one China principle”, Xinhua said.

“Both sides of the strait share an inseparable common destiny,” Xi said in the letter, read to a meeting of about 400 Taiwanese in Beijing by Zhang Zhijun, director of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, the news agency reported.

The business lobby, which groups together about 130 Taiwanese business associations across the mainland, has pushed for greater engagement with Beijing in Taipei.

In 2012, it met then Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou to push for permission for Taiwanese citizens to become full-fledged members of the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the ruling Communist Party.

But the effort failed, relegating Taiwan’s businessmen to honorary positions.

The lobby has been a target of a concerted campaign by the party to spread the mainland’s influence in Taiwan via its United Front Work Department, which reaches out to non-party groups.

Since ties began to thaw in the 1980s, Taiwanese businesses have invested billions of dollars in the mainland, drawn by a common culture and language and the country’s vast market and pool of cheap labour.