The government-controlled Chinese media recently claimed that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has begun to study the possibility of withdrawing its missiles targeting Taiwan. Those reports were immediately exaggerated by pro-unification media here, which are making it seem as if China has already decided to withdraw the missiles, and depict the supposed move as yet another goodwill gesture from Beijing.
Actually, this is not the first time there have been rumors about China withdrawing missiles. The only difference now is that China has gotten better at seizing the right time to float such rumors, so as to maximize the effect of its propaganda. With respect to Beijing's supposed deliberations on the missile issue, we should observe and listen carefully.
Even more important, we must study the intentions underlying such media reports. We should not take them at face value and thereby become an unwitting part of China's propaganda machine.
Reportedly, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (
If Taiwan cannot purchase such equipment from the US, there is no other way for it to strengthen its defense capabilities. So obviously China has nothing to lose from this supposed deal.
The context in which China released the rumors about withdrawing missiles is worth pondering for several reasons.
First, it took place after the meetings between Chinese President Hu Jintao (
With these meetings as the starting point, Hu can keep the initiative on the cross-strait issue through the release of reports on the missile withdrawal. This is nothing but bait to lure the Taiwanese people into swallowing the poison of "one China."
Moreover, in recent days Chinese survey ships have repeatedly entered Taiwan's waters to gather information on water currents and ocean geography, in the clear pursuit of a military agenda. China has also released the rumors about withdrawing missiles to conceal its aggressive ambitions.
China also recently enacted the "Anti-Secession" Law, which includes explicit provisions on dealing with Taiwan through "non-peaceful" means. It continues to face severe international criticism over the law. The release of the rumors should help take some of the heat off China for its bellicose legislation.
China is endeavoring to persuade the EU to lift the arms embargo against it. Therefore, Beijing may be seeking to create an illusion that the threat facing Taiwan is lowering, to help persuade the EU to remove the ban.
Keeping this context in mind, it's clear that if China is truly planning to remove its missiles, it is doing so out of its own calculated self-interest, rather than as a genuine goodwill gesture toward Taiwan.