Xi Jinping says Communist Party needs to ‘win hearts and minds’ in Taiwan and Hong Kong

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China’s president Xi Jinping pushed for a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” just days before US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s contentious visit to Taiwan.

Mr Xi called for China to win the “hearts and minds” of the people of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao at a conference of the Communist Party’s United Front department in Beijing over the weekend.

Mr Xi said the key department – which is responsible for dealing with non-party individuals and groups inside and outside China – was “an important magic weapon for the party to overcome the enemy, govern and rejuvenate the country”.

“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 realise national rejuvenation,” he said.

The Chinese leader told the department to reach out to “patriotic forces” overseas and emphasised the group will play an increasingly important role in safeguarding China’s national sovereignty.

“[We] must strengthen the building of overseas patriotic forces, cultivate and expand the strength of those who know China and are willing to befriend China, and promote exchanges and mutual learning of Chinese and foreign cultures and civilisations,” state-owned Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

“The United Front is an important magic weapon for the party to overcome the enemy, govern and rejuvenate the country, and it is an important magic weapon for uniting all Chinese sons and daughters at home and abroad to realise the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he further said.

“[We] must give full play to the role of the United Work Front in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and overseas, to win the hearts and minds of people.”

Xie Maosong, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Strategic Studies at China’s Tsinghua University, said the United Front conference was a summation of “a series of important meetings” he had called in the past few years, according to the South China Morning Post.

These meetings included the Central Tibet Work Symposium, Xinjiang Work Symposium, the Central Ethnic Work Conference and the National Religious Work Conference.

“The key directions will chart the party’s relevant works for the next decade or longer,” Mr Xie said.

China on Monday warned the US that its military would not “sit idly by” if Ms Pelosi visited Taiwan, which China claims to be its own territory.

Ms Pelosi is supposed to reach Taiwan capital Taipei shortly.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian warned China was closely following her itinerary and that “the will of the people cannot be defied, and those who play with fire will perish by it”.

He added that the visit would be “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

Just hours before the House speaker is set to land, Reuters quoted a source as saying that the Taiwan presidential office’s website was the target of an overseas cyber attack but was later bought back online.

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