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President Xi acknowledged the difference in the political systems of China and Taiwan, but dismissed it being an obstacle, saying the one-country-two-systems model will ensure the "social systems and lifestyles of Taiwan compatriots will be fully respected".

Xi's words that Taiwan "must and will be reunited" follow along with Beijing's long-standing view on its most sensitive issue, though there is some worry in Taiwan that with his increased power Xi is in a stronger position than his predecessors when it comes to achieving this goal. He said independence for the self-governing island is against history and a dead end.

Although Beijing prefers a peaceful method, Mr Xi reiterated that the use of force remained an option as he delivered a speech today commemorating...

"China has to squarely face the factual existence of the Republic of China, Taiwan, instead of denying the democratic system that the Taiwanese people have built together".

To accommodate differences in Taiwan's political system and civil society, China has proposed adopting the "one country, two systems" policy, which was implemented in Hong Kong after the British handed the city back to China in 1997.

It's unclear how his message will be received by the 23 million people on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

"We make no promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures". As part of the government's New Southbound Policy, visitors from six Southeast Asian countries were allowed visa-free entry to Taiwan if they held a resident card or visa for Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, any European Union or Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, or the U.S. that had expired less than 10 years prior to their date of arrival.

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In his first major speech for the new year, President Xi gave a definitive outline of the future of China-Taiwan relations, assuring the Taiwanese their rights and interests would be protected, while appealing to their emotions as ethnic Chinese who should rightfully be bonded to the motherland.

All told, the speech amounted to a more balanced tack at a juncture when Taiwan is gearing up for presidential elections, and mainland officials - and Taiwanese politicians - see an opportunity to press their case.

Should mainland Chinese indeed flock to Taiwan in 2019, tourism operators in KMT-led cities and counties could see significant increases in revenue - which will inevitably lead some to attribute the gains exclusively to the KMT's attempt to warm relations with Beijing, while overlooking ongoing efforts to attract tourists of other nationalities under the New Southbound Policy.

The rival nationalists set up their own government on Taiwan, which sits about 160km (100 miles) off the Chinese mainland.

Xi was speaking one day after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen unveiled a new framework for cross-strait relations.

Cross-strait issues on the part of Taiwan should be handled by the elected government which is monitored by Taiwanese people, said President Tsai.

The Chinese government has heaped pressure on Tsai since she took office in 2016, cutting off dialogue, whittling down Taiwan's few remaining diplomatic allies and forcing foreign airlines to list Taiwan as part of China on their websites.