China Marks Centennial End of Dynasty With New Call for Reunification

China has marked the 100th anniversary of the revolution that ended two millennia of nearly unbroken imperial rule. Festivities in Beijing Sunday included calls for the reunification of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, and a surprise public appearance by the ailing former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Current President Hu Jintao, speaking to top Communist Party officials, said reunification through peaceful means meets the fundamental interests of the Chinese people. He also called on party leaders to strengthen Chinese opposition to Taiwanese independence.

Hu also used his address to call on Beijing and Taipei to “cooperate in the peaceful resolution of bilateral relations,” while increasing “economic competitiveness on both sides of the [Taiwan] straits.”

Former President Jiang attended the ceremonies months after widespread media speculation that he had died or was close to death.

Jiang, 85, failed to appear in early July at a celebration marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist party. His absence sparked intense media speculation in Hong Kong about his medical condition, with some reports saying he had died and other saying he was hospitalized in Beijing near death. China dismissed those reports as rumor.

China’s 1911 Xinhai revolution marked the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and abruptly ended 2000 years of almost uninterrupted dynastic rule. The Republic of China, led by Sun Yat-sen, was established weeks later.