China marked Sunday the 100th anniversary of the revolution that ended two millennia of nearly unbroken imperial rule.

The official observance of the 1911 revolution was marked by calls for the reunification of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland and a surprise public appearance by the ailing former President Jiang Zemin.

President Hu Jintao, speaking to top Communist Party officials, said reunification through peaceful means meets the fundamental interests of the Chinese people.

China's President Hu Jintao shakes hands with former President Jiang Zemin at the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution in Beijing
China's former president Hu Jintao shakes hands with his predecessorJiang Zemin at the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution in Beijing. Photo: Reuters

In 1911, Sun Yat-sen led the revolution against the Qing Dynasty and founded Asia's first republic, the Republic of China, ending 2,000 years of almost uninterrupted dynastic rule. The Communist Party overthrew the republic in 1949, forcing it to retreat to Taiwan following a civil war victory by Mao Zedong's Communists over Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists.

At a ceremony in Beijing, Hu hailed Sun's thoroughly modern, national and democratic revolution, saying it opened the door of progress for China and searched for ways for the Chinese nation's development and progress.

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Jiang, the former Chinese president who was said to have fallen gravely ill in July, appeared at a ceremony in Beijing on Sunday. Reaching an accord with Taiwan was one of Jiang's focuses in his tenure as president, during which he made conciliatory overtures to the island nation including a One Country, Two Systems proposal. China's economy boomed under his leadership, growing at an annual average rate exceeding 9 percent.