Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) vowed yesterday that the government would be cautious in pursuing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, amid US warnings that Beijing has continued building its military deployment against Taiwan.
Liu made the remarks on the legislative floor while fielding questions from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator William Lai (賴清德), who asked the premier whether the government would rethink its plan to sign an ECFA with China given the Pentagon's latest report showing that China had deployed one-third of its ground troops along its coastline.
The possibility of signing an ECFA with Beijing has been fiercely debated in recent weeks, with critics saying it would make Taiwan too economically dependent on China.
Liu said the government would never relax its defense capability even though the government had been pursuing economic cooperation with China.
“Information like this would only make us more cautious,” he said.
“On the one hand, we would like to develop our economy [by strengthening cross-strait cooperation],” he said. “On the other hand, we also have to have the capability to defend ourselves.”
The Pentagon on Wednesday released its latest annual report to Congress on China's military, suggesting that Beijing had not changed its military dispositions opposite Taiwan and had deployed 440,000 ground troops along its coastline.
“Although Beijing professes a desire for peaceful unification that would allow Taiwan to retain a high degree of autonomy, the PLA's [People's Liberation Army's] deployment of short-range ballistic missiles, enhanced amphibious warfare capabilities and modern, advanced long-range anti-air systems across the strait from Taiwan underscores that Beijing remains unwilling to renounce the use of force,” the report said.
Lai said yesterday that the US report was proof that China remained hostile toward Taiwan despite the government's efforts to pursue cross-strait peace.
Speaking at the legislature's state affairs forum earlier yesterday, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said that the Pentagon's report showed that “no matter how many times [President] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) belittles himself, he will never be able to change China nor persuade China to give up taking Taiwan by force.”
But Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民), one of the two committee heads of the legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee, said it would be wrong to assume that Chinese military deployment was solely aimed at Taiwan.
Shuai said Taiwan was not the only perceived enemy of China, adding that the deployment was meant to deter the US from interfering in Asian affairs.
KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who is also a member of the committee, said there was no need for people to “make a mountain out of a molehill” because Ma had been doing his best to improve cross-strait relations.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA
Also See: HK unionist warns against ECFA
Also See: Adviser pans government on ECFA