The time is not ripe to discuss the establishment of a military -confidence-building mechanism (CBM) with China, the Presidential Office said yesterday.
Dismissing speculation that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would accelerate the process of establishing a military CBM if he were to win re-election next year, Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said political matters would remain off the cross-strait table for the moment.
“The timing is not right to discuss the matter, since the administration’s cross-strait policy is to proceed gradually,” Lo said. “We will tackle the easier and urgent issues and steadily move toward more difficult and less pressing ones. Economic issues precede political ones.”
A report in the Chinese-language China Times yesterday said that Ma had invited authors who had contributed to his military and diplomatic White Papers when he was campaigning for president in 2008 for a meeting at the Presidential Office last week.
The report said Ma had clearly expressed his intention to seek re-election and discussed the direction of policy proposals for his re-election bid. The report said the participants suspected Ma would expedite the process of establishing a military CBM if he won a second term.
They also suspected Ma would continue to extend goodwill gestures to China and demand that Beijing fulfill its promise of removing missiles targeted at Taiwan, the report said.
In what constituted Beijing’s first official response to Ma’s call for the removal of the missiles as a precondition for political talks, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng (耿雁生) said on July 30 last year that China was willing to talk about redeploying its missiles aimed at Taiwan under the “one China” principle, and once the two sides had discussed the establishment of a military CBM.
In Taipei, the Ministry of National Defense said at the time it welcomed Beijing’s idea of redeploying the missiles, but emphasized that it did not bear any substantive military significance because the missile launchers were mobile.
Experts said short of the full dismantlement of missiles, launchers and the entire infrastructure, the redeployment of China’s short and mid-range missiles further inland could be reversed in a matter of weeks.
The Mainland Affairs Council urged Beijing to establish mutual trust by renouncing military intimidation against Taiwan. It also called on China to review its “Anti-Secession” Law, which it said was impeding the development of ties between Taipei and Beijing.
Ma has yet to officially announce his re-election bid. The next presidential election is scheduled for March next year.
The Central Election Commission said on Saturday it would decide by June whether to combine the presidential and legislative elections. Under the current schedule, the next legislative elections would be held in December or next January.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER