China says it has patience needed to bring Taiwan under its control

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China said it has the patience to someday bring Taiwan under its control, partly because “compatriots there want it to happen” -- a view that contrasts with polling showing skeptical views of Beijing in the democracy.

“With regard to resolving the Taiwan question and realizing the complete unification of China, we have strategic composure and historic patience, and we are also full of confidence,” Qiu Kaiming, an official in a Chinese government department that handles ties with the island, said at a Wednesday news briefing.

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“More and more Taiwan compatriots realize the future of Taiwan lies in the national unification,” said Qiu, who was speaking at a briefing in Beijing held by the Taiwan Affairs

Office to recap ties over the past decade. He added that “the vast majority” of Taiwan people oppose independence.

A survey in August that was commissioned by the Taiwan government found some two-thirds of respondents saw Beijing as unfriendly to them, the highest level in more than two decades. More than a quarter said they backed immediate or eventual independence, while less than 10 percent supported unification at some point.

The polling came just after Nancy Pelosi became the first sitting US House speaker to visit Taipei in 25 years, prompting the People’s Liberation Army to hold unprecedented military drills and send ballistic missiles over the island.

China regularly touts the measures it takes to try to win over the 23 million people of Taiwan, such as introducing policies to attract businesses and students. Last year, it also made it easier for Taiwan’s agricultural and forestry sector to do business on the mainland.

Yet is has threatened to take Taiwan by force if necessary. It also punishes businesses and political donors with links to independence supporters, and strives to counter President Tsai Ing-wen’s campaign to boost the island’s international profile.

Last week, Taiwan accused China of bullying a beauty pageant contestant from the island after she was unable to appear on stage at an event in Malaysia.

Qiu’s comments may be an effort by Beijing to manage public expectations after Pelosi’s visit, which some nationalist voices on the mainland urged the government to respond to by stopping her plane from landing, or even shooting it down.

Deng Yuwen, a former editor of a Communist Party newspaper, said at the time that the public disappointment was “a huge blow” to the authority of China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

Xi, 69, may spell out his plans for Taiwan at a key congress of the ruling Communist Party starting October 16, when he’s expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term in power. He’ll describe unification as a long-term goal, Kyodo News of Japan reported Tuesday, citing unidentified party and government sources.

TAO spokesman Ma Xiaoguang sidestepped a question at the briefing on Wednesday about China’s timetable for taking control of Taiwan, saying only that “it’s a historic trend that no one will be able to stop.”

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