China Hints Missiles Targeting Taiwan Could Be Cut
TAIPEI – Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has suggested that mainland missiles pointing at Taiwan could one day be removed, Taipei-based media reported Sept. 24.
“I believe the issue you mention will eventually be realized,” Wen said according to the United Daily News and other newspapers, when asked about withdrawing Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan.
Wen made the remarks in New York while meeting Chinese-language media, the paper said.
Taiwanese experts estimate that the Chinese military has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.
But recent reports in the island’s media have said the People’s Liberation Army may boost the number of short-range ballistic and cruise missiles facing Taiwan to 1,960 before the year’s end.
Wen was also quoted by the United Daily News as saying China and Taiwan had reached a consensus on how to approach their delicate relationship, addressing relatively easy issues such as economic matters first.
China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing views the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
The Pentagon said in an annual report to Congress in August that China’s military build-up against Taiwan has “continued unabated” despite improving political relations.
China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence.
However, tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office on a Beijing-friendly platform in 2008.