China’s president on Friday laid emphasis on the unification of self-ruled Taiwan with the mainland in his New Year message, which focused on the country’s achievements.

“The complete reunification of our motherland is an aspiration shared by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Xi Jinping said, without naming Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its “breakaway province.”

This year witnessed heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China from Taiwan as Taipei increased interactions with the US and its allies.

As Washington boosted Taipei’s defense capabilities, especially during and after the administration of former President Donald Trump, the Chinese military likewise boosted the number of its military jets entering the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), which Taiwan says separates its air space from China’s.

Referring to semi-autonomous regions including Hong Kong and Macao, Xi said in his live-streamed address: “The prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao is always close to the heart of the motherland.”

“Only with unity and concerted efforts can we ensure sound implementation of One Country, Two Systems in the long run,” he added.

Hong Kong’s security and electoral systems underwent a radical overhaul soon after yearlong anti-government demonstrations died down in 2019.

Xi praised the year gone by, saying China has “lived through landmark events in the history of our party and our country.”

“At the historical convergence of the two centenary goals, we have set out on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects and are making confident strides on the path toward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he added.

“Our country, big as it is, also has its list of priorities,” he said, referring to hosting the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary, China’s debut Mars mission, and the launch of the Tianhe space station core, besides the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

On the upcoming Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, he called for “greater public involvement” which he said “contributes to the Olympic Movement.”

“We will spare no effort to present a great Games to the world. The world is turning its eyes to China, and China is ready,” he said about the Beijing Winter Games, which has seen calls for boycott over alleged human rights violations of ethnic Uyghurs in the northern autonomous Xinjiang province. Beijing has denied doing any wrong.

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