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MAC not ready to talk missiles

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday said the time was not ripe to ask China to destroy its missiles aimed at Taiwan or renounce the use of force.

Deputy Mainland Affairs Council Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said that both sides of the Taiwan Strait were still focusing on the economic issues and accumulating more mutual trust.

MORE TRUST NEEDED

“From removing the missiles to the issues you just mentioned is an important step for the overall military deployment,” he said. “The government has expressed its stance on the matter [of removing the -missiles,] but right now we must build more mutual trust before both sides can move on to address more serious issues.”

Liu made the remarks in response to questions from reporters — made against the backdrop of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s (溫家寶) recent remark that the missiles aiming at Taiwan “will one day be removed” — as to whether it would be best for China to completely dismantle its missiles aimed at Taiwan, rather than simply remove them.

During a meeting on Wednesday last week with reporters posted to New York by Chinese-language media, Wen was asked about withdrawing Chinese -missiles targeting Taiwan.

“I believe the issue you mention will eventually be realized,” Wen said at the time, without giving any timeframe.

POLITICAL MOTIVE

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government welcomed Wen’s remarks, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) dismissed his comment as both vague and as an attempt to boost the KMT’s prospects ahead of November’s municipal elections.

Liu said the government’s position on the missile matter was clear: that removing the missiles aimed at Taiwan was something that China could do immediately and unilaterally.

“We hope they will do so as soon as possible, because it is very important for us and everybody is concerned about it,” he said. “We are more worried about whether they will do it.”

DPP legislators were unimpressed with Liu’s response.

DPP Legislator Pan Men-an blasted the council, saying it had failed to defend Taiwan’s interests.

“The DPP is not against engaging China, but we insist that Taiwan’s integrity be upheld,” he said. “Does the council even sound like it deserves to exist when it does not even have the guts to demand that China renounces the use of force against Taiwan?”

DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the council’s response was in line with Beijing’s policy of tackling the economic issues first and political ones later.

“The government does not seem to understand that the two issues are inseparable,” she said. “They don’t dare say anything different from China because they are afraid of upsetting them.”

Once Taiwan becomes more economically dependent on China, the nation will lose its bargaining chips at the negotiation table, she said, adding that only changing the government could resolve the problem.

DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher said the council sounded more like China’s government agency. Self-deprecation will never win respect from China or the international community, he added.

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