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China withdraws promise not to send troops to Taiwan if it takes control of island

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China has withdrawn a promise not to send troops or administrators to Taiwan if it takes control of the island, an official document showed on Wednesday, signalling a decision by President Xi Jinping to grant less autonomy than previously offered.

China’s white paper on its position on self-ruled Taiwan follows days of unprecedented Chinese military exercises near the island, which Beijing claims as its territory, in protest against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit last week.

China had said in two previous white papers on Taiwan, in 1993 and 2000, that it “will not send troops or administrative personnel to be based in Taiwan” after achieving what Beijing terms “reunification”.

That line, meant to assure Taiwan it would enjoy autonomy after becoming a special administrative region of China, did not appear in the latest white paper.

China’s ruling Communist Party had proposed that Taiwan could return to its rule under a “one country, two systems” model, similar to the formula under which the former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

All mainstream Taiwanese political parties have rejected the “one country, two systems” proposal and it enjoys almost no public supportaccording to opinion polls. Taiwan’s government says only the island’s people can decide their future.

A line in the 2000 white paper that said “anything can be negotiated” as long as Taiwan accepts that there is only one China and does not seek independence, is also missing from the latest white paper.

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