Chinese President Hu Jintao used Monday's 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution that brought an end of imperial China to call for reunification with Taiwan, an island that has been governed for the last six decades by the Chinese Nationalists.
Chinese news media prominently carried President Hu Jintao's call for a rejuvenation of the country, 100 years after the Xinhai Revolution that ended more than 2,000 years of dynastic rule in China.
China Urges Reunification at 100th Anniversary of Demise of Last Dynasty
President Hu calls on all of China's sons and daughters to join hands to carry on with the work of the Chinese Republic's first president, Sun Yat-sen, and realize his ideals of what he described as “China's great rejuvenation.”
Sun Yat-sen is seen as modern China's founding father and is revered by people in Taiwan and on the Chinese mainland. He had already passed away when the Nationalists lost a civil war to the Chinese Communists in 1949, and fled to Taiwan.
In his speech Sunday, Mr. Hu emphasized this common history and pointed out that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same blood.
Mr. Hu says at the moment, Taiwan and mainland China face common prosperity and development. He urges peaceful reunification and says both sides should strive for the common goal of developing the Chinese people.
Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin also appeared in public for Sunday's ceremony. State television showed the visibly frail 85-year old singing the national anthem with other top leaders. Chinese officials have routinely dismissed rumors about Mr. Jiang's failing health in recent months.
In Taipei, Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou also invoked Sun Yat-sen for the 100th anniversary, but emphasized values that differed from his mainland counterpart.
Mr. Ma called on mainland authorities to remember Sun Yat-sen's founding ideals of China as a nation of freedom, democracy and the fair distribution of wealth. And he urged Chinese leaders to, in his words, "bravely march" in that direction.
His speech was followed by an hour-long military display, which included fighter jets, tanks and missiles.
China still claims Taiwan as part of its own territory. The two sides have eased hostilities over the past few years, but China has not renounced the possibility that it will use force to prevent the separately-governed island from declaring independence.