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.”
SURPRISE GUEST: Media reports identified the visitor as Admiral Michael Studeman, director of the J2, which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command A two-star US Navy admiral overseeing US military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has made an unannounced visit to Taiwan, two sources told Reuters on Sunday. The sources, who include a Taiwanese official familiar with the situation, said the official was Rear Admiral Michael Studeman. They were speaking on condition of anonymity. After initially saying on Sunday night that it had no comment about the report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the visit of an “unidentified US official,” but declined to give more details because the trip “has not been made public.” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday
AUTUMN STRUGGLE: The KMT and TPP set up stages on the rally’s sidelines, while Want Want boss Tsai Eng-meng said the DPP was curtailing freedom of speech Tens of thousands of people in Taipei yesterday took part in the “Autumn Struggle” (秋鬥) — an annual protest march by labor groups — but with this year’s focus on rejecting the government’s plan to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine residue. “Against poisonous pork, against double standards, against a party-state,” the protesters, mostly wearing black, chanted in front of the rally’s main stage on Ketagalan Boulevard at about noon, before a parade set off at 2pm. Autumn Struggle spokesperson Lee Chien-cheng (李建誠) said this year’s march was divided into three teams, with the first team urging food safety and labor
DEFENSE: The construction of indigenous submarines will be a testament to the nation’s commitment to safeguard its sovereignty, President Tsai Ing-wen said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday presided over a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the nation’s first indigenous submarine at state-run shipbuilder CSBC Corp’s (台灣國際造船) shipyard in Kaohsiung. “This submarine is an important part of allowing our navy to develop asymmetric warfare and to intimidate and block enemy ships from surrounding Taiwan’s main island,” Tsai said. “With the construction of the submarine to its future commission, we will certainly let the world know our persistence in safeguarding our sovereignty.” Tsai has made boosting the nation’s indigenous defense capacity a central pillar of her defense policy. She recently relaunched the
TIMELINE QUESTIONS: Chen Shih-chung said: ‘If anyone could assure us that we could get the shots in the first quarter of next year, we could set off firecrackers’ Taiwan has secured nearly 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported five new imported infections among travelers from Indonesia and the Philippines. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that Taiwan on Monday signed a procurement contract with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer and paid a deposit to secure 10 million doses. It was the first contract finalized with a manufacturer and negotiations are under way with three other vaccine makers, Chen said. With the more than 4.6 million doses that can be obtained through the COVAX platform —