Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has rejected a "one country, two systems" deal proposed by his Chinese counterpart.
"In the early 1980's the 'one country, two systems' concept was created for Taiwan, not for Hong Kong. But Taiwan has sent a clear message that we do not accept the concept," said Ma in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera.
"If the system is good, then we believe it should be 'one country, one system'."
"We are not expecting to go to war with the Chinese Communist Party," added Ma. "Instead, we are hoping to minimise the possibility of war between us."
Ma's comments followed remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, who was quoted in state media warning Taiwan against independence, saying "no secessionist act will be tolerated" by Beijing.
Xi said that his government sought peaceful reunification using the "one country, two systems" principle for Taiwan, as it has done with the former British colony Hong Kong.
"The national reunification we advocate is not merely unification in form, but more importantly, a spiritual connection between the two sides," Xi said.
Hong Kong 'concerns'
Discussing the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Ma said: "Taiwan is the only place in ethnic Chinese societies where we are able to practice democracy .... We are worried about the developments in Hong Kong.
"We are very concerned about how it will affect Hong Kong's future as well as China's international image.... Hong Kong has already become a global financial centre.
"Any political turbulence will have significant implications to its economic development."
China's Communist government considers Taiwan as a renegade province.
The nationalist government of the Republic of China retreated to the island in 1949 as its last foothold after losing a civil war to the Communists.
The nationalist government's ambitions to reclaim the mainland later fizzled out, and the island became a de facto sovereign state, although there was no formal declaration of independence.
Animosity towards the mainland's government has lingered in democratic Taiwan, which remains cautious about Beijing's authoritarian government.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies