After Much Saber Rattling, Xi Tells Party To 'Win Hearts And Minds'
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has urged the Communist Party to "win hearts and minds" of people in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan as part of a "national rejuvenation," Simone McCarthy reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: Xi's comments on the United Front also controversially include Taiwan in China's "rejuvenation" plans.
Xi's demand, made over the weekend in a meeting attended by top Chinese officials, was one of a number of critical tasks listed by the Chinese leader for the United Front Work Department — a branch of the Communist Party tasked with gaining influence both at home and overseas.
"The united front ... is an important assurance for [China's Communist Party] to defeat the enemy, to govern and rejuvenate the country, and to rally all Chinese people both at home and abroad to realize national rejuvenation," Xi said at the Beijing conference on United Front Work, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
Xi's comments on the United Front also controversially include Taiwan in China's "rejuvenation" plans, and come at a moment when US-China tensions over the island have flared due to a possible visit from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei this week.
China has lashed out at the potential visit, vowing to take "resolute and forceful measures" if it goes ahead.
Last week, China's Defense Ministry reiterated the threat, warning: "If the US insists on taking its own course, the Chinese military will never sit idly by."
But Xi's nod toward to the importance of the United Front in Taiwan may signal Beijing's preference for "long-term, peaceful approaches" when it comes to its professed goal of "reunification," according to Wen-Ti Sung, a political scientist at the Australian National University's Taiwan Studies Program.
"It shows in a very subtle way that in spite of all the heated rhetoric out there, [Beijing] has got to show some patience here," Sung said.