The cross-strait missile crisis that began in 1996 is far from over as peace in the Taiwan Strait is still imperiled by China's continuing military buildup, Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday.
"China's perpetual military buildup has complicated the already volatile cross-strait situation and seriously threatened regional peace," he said. "While some people debate whether to accept China's offer of pandas or to cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party, China's military buildup is an issue that deserves serious attention from both the public and international community."
Wu made the comments while attending a forum in Taipei yesterday to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1996 missile crisis.
Beijing began a campaign of intimidation between June 1995 and March 1996 in reaction to the US giving a visa to former president Lee Teng-hui (
On March 8, 1996, Beijing launched an eight-day live fire drill in the Taiwan Strait in a bid to intimidate Taiwanese voters.
Wu said the government will continue to extend goodwill gestures to Beijing in the hope of seeking reconciliation, cooperation and peace in the Strait despite Beijing's indifference.
The government will continue to promote democratic reform and safeguard the status quo in the Strait, he said. It will also push for China's democratization and the establishment of a new balance of power in the Strait on the basis of democracy and peace, he said.
Wu said Taiwan has transformed itself into a democratic country over the past decade, while China continues to be run by an authoritarian regime which resorts to military might to settle disputes.
Even though Beijing's fundamental Taiwan policy has remained the same over the past decade, Wu said there have been changes.
First, he said, the "rise of China" has fueled tension in the Taiwan Strait and threatened safety in the Asia-Pacific region.
Second, Beijing has made aggressive attempts to change the status quo in the Strait since it passed the "Anti-Secession" Law last March. The legislation, he said, reflects the true nature of China's "non-peaceful rise" and has helped convince the international community that China is a threat to regional peace.
Third, Beijing has let its political maneuvering dictate cross-strait exchanges and interactions, he said. Instead of conducting talks with the duly elected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, China has courted the pro-unification opposition with the aim of defining cross-strait exchanges as a "domestic affair," he said.
Meanwhile, National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-hsien (
"It has been 10 years since the 1996 cross-strait missile crisis took place and one year since China enacted the `Anti-Secession' Law, but what we see is Beijing's increasingly tougher stance despite our efforts to push for peace and democracy in the Taiwan Strait," Tsai said at the forum.
He urged the opposition parties to pass the long-stalled arms procurement package.