Sun, Jan 04, 2009 - Page 1 News List

MND unmoved by PRC missile report

NO BIG DEAL After a report that China was mulling a plan to remove missiles aimed at Taiwan, a ministry spokeswoman said that such a move would be purely symbolic

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday it would not cut back on the nation’s defense despite a media report that said China could gradually decrease the number of missiles targeting Taiwan.

China is believed to have deployed around 1,300 missiles across the Taiwan Strait, a figure that has steadily risen for years.

The latest issue of the Chinese-language Yazhou Zhoukan, a Hong Kong-based magazine, reported that after Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) suggestion last week that Taiwan and China discuss a military confidence-building mechanism, the Chinese government and military were mulling the option of gradually decreasing missiles aimed at Taiwan once military exchanges had begun.

“The ministry welcomes the idea of China withdrawing missiles and believes it would be a positive development between the militaries of both sides,” ministry spokeswoman Major-General Lisa Chi (池玉蘭) said.

But, she said, removing missiles would be purely symbolic because they could be easily redeployed.

The ministry would not let down its guard, she said.

On the issue of military exchanges, Chi said the ministry felt that cross-strait economic and political exchanges must come first. The ministry would follow the government’s policy, she said.

Commenting on the Yazhou Zhoukan report, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said the government and the public should not mistake an alleged offer by Beijing to decrease the number of missiles targeting Taiwan as a gesture of goodwill.

“Cross-strait relations are extremely complex. Do not take this reported overture by Beijing as the goodwill gesture it seems to be, because removing the missiles cannot be done overnight,” she said.

Separately, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said yesterday that if China withdrew missiles without setting preconditions — such as requiring Taiwan to withdraw troops from Kinmen and Matsu or to stop procuring weapons from the US — then it would be a goodwill gesture.

If China were to remove some of the missiles aimed at Taiwan, it would be better for China’s short-range missiles in Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangxi provinces to be withdrawn first, as those constitute the greatest and most immediate threat to Taiwan, he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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