Taiwan: China Should Remove Missiles Before Peace Talks
Below is an article published by Reuters India:
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou demanded on Tuesday [April 6] that China remove missiles aimed at the island before any peace talks, comments that could slow recent momentum in relations, including two-way trade that has reached $109 billion.
Beijing must scrap or move missiles, which Taiwan suspects are piling up in China some 160 km (100 miles) away, to begin any discussion on a peace accord, an idea welcomed by both sides when Ma took office in 2008, the president told a group of U.S. scholars.
"We demand that mainland China scrap or remove missiles aimed at Taiwan," Ma said, as quoted by Taiwan's Central News Agency. "Otherwise, Taiwan will not take any further steps to discuss a peace accord with the mainland."
His uncharacteristically strong remarks are seen helping to build a tough-on-Beijing image for Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party ahead of tense year-end local elections against Taiwan's main opposition party, which generally takes a more anti-China line.
"People are concerned about a political union with China, so Ma Ying-jeou has to say something to that to make people more comfortable," said Shane Lee, political scientist at Chang Jung University in Taiwan.
But Ma's comment also could dent recent momentum in trade, including an economic cooperation framework agreement expected to be signed by June, which has sweetened Taiwan's export-reliant economy and boosted financial markets although overall ties with China remain highly divisive.
Ma spoke as Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng arrived in Taipei for a city-to-city visit focused on culture and commerce.
Taiwan officials say China has aimed from 1,000 to 1,500 short- and mid-range missiles at the self-ruled island, which Beijing has claimed as its own since the Chinese Civil war of the 1940s.