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Taiwan leader says no unification with China for now

Agence France Presse - October 10, 2011

Taipei, Taiwan Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said Monday that unification with China was not on the agenda for now, speaking a day after his Chinese counterpart called for the two rivals to reunite.

Ma also urged China to emulate Taiwan's democracy, as he addressed an audience gathered in Taipei for the 100th anniversary of the revolution that set the stage for the Republic of China, the island's official name.

"We are maintaining the status quo of 'no unification, no independence, and no use of force,'" Ma said.

"This has greatly relaxed tensions across the Taiwan Strait and garnered the international community's affirmation and support."

China and Taiwan have been separated since the end of a civil war 62 years ago, but Beijing still claims sovereignty over the island and has vowed to get it back.

On Sunday, Chinese President Hu Jintao marked the same 100th anniversary by stating that "reunification through peaceful means is what most suits Chinese people's fundamental interests, including Taiwan compatriots."

Officials at the Presidential Office in Taipei could not immediately confirm whether Ma had adjusted his prepared speech after Hu's comments were delivered.

The Taiwanese president said in his speech that the aspiration of the founders of the Chinese republic a century ago was to "establish a free and democratic nation with equitable distribution of wealth."

"The mainland ought to courageously move in that direction," he told his audience.

The revolution commemorated Monday in Taiwan overthrew China's last emperor, bringing more than 2,000 years of nearly unbroken imperial history to an abrupt end.

The Republic of China that then emerged lasted on the mainland until 1949, when the Communists took power.

This forced the remnants of the republic to move to Taiwan, which still calls itself the Republic of China.

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