With the completion of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th National Congress last month, Beijing is stepping up pressure on Taiwan to begin political talks and sign a cross-strait “peace agreement.”
During a routine press conference in Beijing yesterday, Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Fan Liqing (范麗青) said that China remained committed to safeguarding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, adding that concerns on Taiwan’s side over the deployment by China of about 1,600 ballistic missiles would be best addressed through timely meetings on military issues.
The best way to reduce military concerns would be for the two sides to discuss the establishment of a cross-strait mutual-trust security mechanism, during which issues of military deployments could be addressed, Fan said.
Both President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and the Democratic Progressive Party have repeatedly called on Beijing to remove or dismantle the ballistic and cruise missiles aimed at Taiwan. So far, such calls have fallen on deaf ears, with the number of missiles increasing at a rate of about 100 missiles annually.
China has also been upgrading its missile forces, replacing short-range Dong Feng-11 (DF-11) missiles with more modern and accurate versions, while increasing the number of longer-range missiles, such as the DF-15 and its latest addition, the DF-16.
Earlier this month, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said that Taipei expected Beijing would exert more pressure on Taiwan to begin political talks, adding that based on his agency’s assessment of the language used during the CCP congress, China seemed especially keen on signing a cross-strait peace agreement.
Fan said a peace agreement was in line with the overall interests of the “Chinese nation” and that the main task following the party congress was to “deepen the peaceful development of cross-strait relations” through follow-up consultations on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and an intensification of economic cooperation and cross-strait cultural exchanges.
In related developments, the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League — one of the eight non-communist political parties in China — held its ninth national congress on Tuesday and pledged to promote the “peaceful reunification of the Chinese nation.”
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (王岐山), a member of the CCP Standing Committee, praised the party, which counts about 2,100 Taiwanese living in China as members, for its “patriotic and revolutionary tradition,” and for the contributions it made to “promoting prosperity and peaceful reunification of the Chinese nation,” Xinhua news agency reported.
During the meetings, the league was urged to “deepen exchanges with people from all walks of life” in Taiwan, to “fight with Taiwan compatriots against ‘Taiwan independence’” and to ensure that Taiwanese recognize the so-called “1992 consensus,” a disputed “agreement” under which both sides have conducted negotiations.
The congress also resolved to draw China and Taiwan closer economically, increase the “common cultural identity” and strengthen the “emotional bounds between people across the Strait.”
League chairwoman Lin Wenyi (林文漪) said the party should study and implement the spirit of the 18th National Congress and seek the “peaceful reunification of the Chinese nation.”