Missiles will go one day, Taiwan told

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 September, 2010, 12:00am

Premier Wen Jiabao told Taiwan yesterday that Beijing would remove missiles targeting the self-ruled island one day. He is the first mainland leader to respond to requests by the island's 23 million people for Beijing to withdraw the more than 1,000 missiles targeting it.

'The cross-strait relationship has entered the best period in the past two years, with both sides signing and implementing the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement,' Wen told New York-based Chinese media yesterday.

'Cross-strait relations should focus on the economy, then politics. Based on the easy bits, then the difficult issues ... I believe we'll be able to remove the missiles targeting Taiwan eventually and one day we'll be able to realise peaceful reunification.'

Wen's comment follows speculation in the Hong Kong and Taiwanese media this year that Beijing is considering dismantling some of the 1,600-plus missiles military analysts believe are targeting Taiwan.

On July 31, the eve of the 83rd anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng , a spokesman for the defence ministry in Beijing, told Taiwanese reporters for the first time that the removal of the missiles could be considered if the 'one-China' principle was upheld.

The 'one-China' principle, agreed to at a cross-strait meeting in Hong Kong in 1992, is an understanding that there is only 'one China', but that each side has its own interpretation of what that constitutes.