Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday made a strong pitch for the integration of Taiwan with the mainland amidst heightened tensions with the estranged self-ruled island, saying the “Taiwan question” will be resolved and “peaceful reunification” is in the best interest of people of both sides.

The Taiwan issue brooks “no external interference”, Xi said in the backdrop of the US and Japan stepping up their backing to the estranged island in the face of China’s increasingly aggressive posture.

Xi’s comments came after China sent a record number of military jets into Taiwan’s air defence zone for four days in a row, in a public show of force.

Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state – but China views the self-ruled island as a breakaway province. Beijing has not ruled out the possible use of force to achieve unification.

Speaking in the ornate Great Hall of the People in Beijing to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the revolution that ended the country’s last imperial dynasty, Xi said the biggest obstacle to the reunification of China was the “Taiwan independence” force.

The Taiwan question arose out of the weakness and chaos of the Chinese nation and it will be resolved as national rejuvenation becomes a reality, Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), said.

He said after years of hard work, China’s national rejuvenation has become a historical inevitability, with stronger institutions, firmer material foundations and a more proactive mindset.

National reunification by peaceful means best serves the interests of the Chinese nation as a whole, including compatriots in Taiwan , he said even as he pledged to reunify the island of over 23 million which is resisting forceful integration with the mainland of 1.4 billion population.

The 1911 Revolution led by nationalists headed by Dr Sun Yat-sen ended 2,132 years of imperial rule and 276 years of Manchu rule and heralded the beginning of China’s republican era followed by the formation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.

Taiwan, which opted for democracy, separated from the PRC in 1949 while fighting a civil war with the CPC headed by Mao Zedong.

Last week, tensions flared up after a Chinese military plane made a record 150 flights into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), prompting the US to express serious concern over the escalation.

The intensity of China’s air raids prompted US President Joe Biden to remind Xi that they have agreed to abide by the “Taiwan agreement” during their talks over telephone last month.

Critics say China’s adherence to One Country, Two Systems came into question after how it took control of Hong Kong, a former British colony, by imposing its National Security Law last year.

President Xi’s remarks on Saturday appeared more conciliatory than his last major intervention on Taiwan in July, where he pledged to “smash” any attempts at formal Taiwanese independence.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is a strong advocate of Taiwan’s independence.

President Tsai said at a security forum in Taipei on Friday that although her government did not seek military conflict, “Taiwan will also do whatever it takes to defend its freedom and democratic way of life.”

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