Aug 04, 2010

Taiwan: Arms Reduction Offer disguises Political Pressure

Taiwan has rejected a Chinese offer on removing missiles aimed towards the Taiwan Strait saying it was a pretence for political negotiations. Beijing would only discuss the matter under the “one-China” principle according to which Taiwan would have to accept Chinese sovereignty.

Below is an article published by Reuters India:

Taiwan on Tuesday [August 3] rejected what it saw as an offer from China to discuss arms reduction, a reminder of military tensions between the diplomatic rivals despite improving trade ties.

Taiwan media quoted a Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman as saying last week that the Communist Party government could discuss removing missiles under the "one-China" principle, though Beijing released no formal statement.

China has regarded self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province, its one-China policy, since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, is recognised by 170 countries. Taiwan is recognised by just 23.

Military talks with China would fail at present as Taiwan's wary public disputes "one-China", presidential office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang said. The principle in effect means the self-ruled island must accept Chinese sovereignty before any negotiations.

"The missile situation is hurtful to Taiwan's public," Lo told Reuters. "We think the one-China principle wouldn't have any public support."

China has not ruled out use of force to assert its claim over Taiwan, which says about 1,400 missiles are aimed its way.

Beijing has hoped that sweeteners from its huge economy will soften Taiwan's normally China-friendly leadership on defence and other tough political issues that built up over six decades as the two sides seldom spoke, political analysts say.

The latest incentive is the pro-Taiwan economic cooperation framework agreement, which was welcomed by financial markets ahead of its signing in June. It is expected to help the island's $390 billion economy with tariff cuts once it takes effect on Jan. 1.

But Taiwan says China is adding to the short-range and mid-range missiles aimed at the island just 160 km (100 miles) away, raising the odds that Beijing would win any war.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's ruling Nationalist Party also does not want to be seen buddying up to China before tough year-end local elections against the anti-Beijing opposition.