Taiwan Says Military Trust With China Is Premature After Report

Taiwan will keep building its defenses against China and focus on economic rather than military exchanges because its cross-strait rival hasn’t given up the use of force against the island.

The issue of building mutual trust with China’s military is “highly sensitive,” Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the government agency that handles China issues, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. China and Taiwan can start military exchanges, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported Oct. 12 after a peace forum was held in Shanghai.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the APEC meeting in Bali this month China and Taiwan should resolve their political impasse rather than pass it on to the next generation. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been governed separately since 1949 after Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang fled to the island during a civil war with Mao Zedong’s Communist Party. Since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s election in 2008, cross-strait negotiators have pursued direct transportation links, the lowering of investment barriers and the sale of Chinese currency-denominated financial products in Taiwan.

China has more than 1,100 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan, according to a U.S. defense department report. Taiwan’s defense ministry said in its annual report released this month China could successfully invade Taiwan by 2020 as it gains military strength and develops technology to prevent allies such as the U.S. from coming to the island’s aid.

Military cooperation suggestions are premature, Taiwan Ministry of National Defense spokesman David Lo said by phone yesterday. Taiwan’s Ma said in his National Day address on Oct. 10 that the two sides should build political trust through communication.

The issue of military trust should be considered when there is public consensus in Taiwan, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday.

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