China marked the 100th anniversary of the revolution that ended imperial rule, during which Chinese President Hu Jintao renewed the call for peaceful reunification with Taiwan and a surprise public appearance of former President Jiang Zemin.
Hu also warned Taiwan against ever pursuing complete independence and called for closer relations with the island, which will hold a presidential election in January next year. Nonetheless, Hu has attempted to move past the belligerent rhetoric that Beijing often uses in response to Taiwan’s past rejection of reunification with the mainland. His government has instead talked of ending the state of hostility with Taiwan. Tensions also eased when Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou aided with several trade agreements linking Taiwan’s high-tech economy to China’s markets.
In his anniversary speech, Hu said peaceful reunification is in the fundamental interests of peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and urged party leaders to strengthen opposition to Taiwanese independence.
Hu added that both China and Taiwan should move beyond their divisive history and concentrate on "the peaceful resolution of bilateral relations" while enhancing economic competitiveness, promoting Chinese culture and building on a common national identity. China and Taiwan should end antagonisms, "heal wounds of the past and work together to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," Hu said.
Hu praised the founding father of modern China, Sun Yat-Sen, in his speech, calling Sun "a great national hero, a great patriot and a great leader of the Chinese democratic revolution," and that the Chinese Communist Party is the "core power" that steers China's achievements.
Report: China Marks Centennial End of Dynasty With New Call for Reunification (VOA, 9 Oct 2011)
Report: China Urges Unification With Rival Taiwan (Time, 9 Oct 2011)
Report: China marks century-old revolution amid controversy (Reuters, 9 Oct 2011)
Former President Jiang also attended the ceremonies, putting down widespread speculation that he had passed away or was dying.
Jiang failed to show up at a celebration in early July marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, fanning speculation that he was close to death. The Chinese government dismissed such speculation as "pure rumour".
Jiang's health will add to the speculation on his impact on next year’s leadership transition. Although Jiang handed over most instruments of power to Hu in 2002, Jiang has retained influence over important policy and personnel decisions. But in recent years, Jiang’s influence has diminished.
The current vice-president Xi Jinping is slated to succeed President Hu next year, and Premier Wen Jiabao is expected to be replaced by vice-premier Li Keqiang. Whie Jiang’s involvement would not change the direction of the transition, Jiang could, on the sidelines, assist in helping his protégés, seen as pro-market reformers, secure higher-ranking positions in the new government.
Report: Jiang appearance ends rumours of his death (Financial Times, 9 Oct 2011)