A retired People’s Liberation Army (PLA) general said in Taipei yesterday that it was “meaningless” to ask China to remove the missiles it aims at Taiwan because they are mobile and that it would be more “useful” for Taiwan to recognize “one China” than for Taiwan to keep a big army.
Former PLA general Li Jijun (李際均), now the honorary chairman of the China Research Society of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, made the remarks during a cross-strait forum held to mark 60 years of cross-strait relations after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops lost the Chinese civil war and withdrew to Taiwan in 1949.
Li said China’s military threat was a “fake issue” cooked up by Washington whose purpose was to compel Taiwan to spend money on buying weapons from the US and help its military industry.
“I am urging Taiwan not to fall into the trap,” he said. “For anyone with basic military common sense, mobile missiles can be restored if they are removed … It is meaningless.”
It would be more “useful” for Taiwan to recognize “one China” than to have a 500,000-member army, Li said.
Li’s comments came as a slap on the face of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who has asked Beijing to remove its missiles before both sides can sit down and talk about a peace agreement. It also debunked a view recently expressed by US Missouri State University political science professor Dennis Hickey in an article published in the Los Angeles Times that the US should agree not to sell jets to Taiwan in exchange for the removal of ballistic missiles that China has pointed at Taiwan.
“Taiwan also deploys missiles aimed at the mainland,” he said. “The mainland people do not feel the threat … That thing [ballistic missiles] is not that intimidating.”
Saying the deployment of ballistic missiles against Taiwan was part of China’s overall defense strategy, Li added that they were not aimed at Taiwanese people but at blocking foreign forces from obstructing unification.
Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation adviser Jack Lee (李允傑), however, told the forum that it would be difficult for Taiwan to believe that it would be more useful to recognize “one China” than to have an army of 500,000 soldiers, given the lessons of history.
Lee said the KMT signed an agreement on nationalizing the army with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1945, but the CCP later negated it.
Lee said that while Taiwan understands China’s deployment of ballistic missiles is based on nationalism, the missiles pose a hurdle to a peace agreement, adding that Ma was not asking China to remove all its missiles, but to show some sincerity.
KMT Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民), who also took part in the forum, said both sides could be overreliant on a peace agreement to solve all problems. Taking the example of a peace agreement signed between Germany and the Soviet Union, Shuai said they resumed fire one day after the accord was signed.
“To rely on the peace agreement is to simplify the problem,” he said.
Asked for comments, Democratic Progressive Party Spokesman Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) yesterday said Li’s remarks reflected the fact that he did not understand Taiwan and that its 23 million people had the right to determine the country’s future.
“If China continues to pretend that the threat posed by the missiles to Taiwanese is not there and holds on to such ridiculous views, it won’t do any good for cross-strait peace,” Tsai said.
Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉), secretary-general of Taiwan Solidarity Union, said Li’s views were representative of China’s longstanding strategy of isolating Taiwan from the international community and forcing Taiwan to sign a peaceful agreement under its “one China” framework.
“China has been persuading the US to refrain from selling arms to Taiwan and warding off any interference of international players in cross-strait issues so as to achieve its goal of annexation of Taiwan,” Lin said.
Lin said China had recently ratcheted up the pressure on US over its arms sale policy to Taiwan after one of its main strategy to take over Taiwan by causing the country’s economic dependence on China started to generate results.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN
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