Xi Jinping Visits Closest Chinese Province to Democratic Taiwan

Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Fujian, the closest mainland province to Taiwan, amid tensions with the U.S. over the democratically ruled island.

Xi toured a tea farm in the city of Wuyishan, linking its production to his campaign to boost living standards. “In the past, the tea industry was a pillar in your fight against poverty, and it should become a pillar industry of rural vitalization in the future,” Xi said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

China’s president earlier visited a park that honors Zhi Xi, a 12th century poet and political thinker, saying: “Without the 5,000-year-long Chinese civilization, how could we have found the road to achieve today’s success.”

Fujian holds key geographic significance for China because the ruling Communist Party claims Taiwan -- which sits about 130 kilometers (80 miles) away across a narrow strait -- as its territory. Xi worked in Fujian from 1985 to 2002, rising from vice mayor of Xiamen to provincial governor.

The U.S. should stop “crossing lines and playing with fire” on Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at his annual news briefing earlier this month. The U.S. has strong economic and security ties to the island.

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