Taiwan-China ties remain adversarial: minister of defense

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - Page 4

The relationship between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait remains one between adversaries, Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) said yesterday, adding that the biggest security threat facing Taiwan is that posed by China.

Yen made the comments while answering questions at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

When Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) asked Yen whether he agrees that China represents the biggest threat to Taiwan’s national defense and security, the minister said: “Yes.”

Hsiao then mentioned President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) characterization of cross-strait ties as “non-international” and asked the minister how he would describe Taiwan’s relationship with China.

“It remains one between adversaries,” Yen said.

Ma was addressing the issue of national identity in his National Double Ten Day address, but for the Ministry of National Defense and the military, China continues to be an enemy and the nature of the cross-strait relationship remains adversarial, Yen said.

When asked whether Ma’s comments would confuse the military or lead to a misunderstanding of Taiwan’s strategic focus, the minister said they would not.

In his Oct. 10 address this year, the president said that “the people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait are all Chinese by ethnicity. Cross-strait relations are not international relations.”

After the remarks sparked a backlash, Ma later clarified them by saying that the relationship that exists between Taiwan and China is a special one that is neither international nor intranational.

Observers say that relations with China have improved since Ma took office in May 2008, but his government is facing mounting criticism that it is putting the nation dangerously close to China’s embrace.