China's President Xi Jinping has pledged to contain any moves by Taiwan toward formal independence in his first public remarks on the issue since the self-governing island democracy elected a president and legislature from the independence-leaning party in January.

Speaking to delegates to the annual meeting of China's ceremonial parliament, Xi said China won't budge in its insistence that Taiwan recognize it is part of China, regardless of political changes on the island of 23 million.

Xi said China will safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also wants relations between the sides to develop in a peaceful manner.

Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen says she wants the status-quo of peace and stability between the sides, but has refused to recognize a pro-China political formulation accepted by her predecessor.