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June 23, 2017

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No peace agreement before China dismantles missiles: Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President-elect Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) is insisting that there will be no dialogue on the signing of a peace accord with China unless Beijing dismantles the missiles targeting Taiwan, said Ma's spokesman Luo Chih-chiang yesterday.

Ma hopes the Chinese authorities will understand how the Taiwan people feel knowing that there is a heavy deployment of missiles aimed at them and their homes, Luo said.

Luo cited Ma's comments in response to a news report Friday in the U.S.-based Washington Post that the number of China missiles targeting Taiwan was around 1,400 units, 400 more than previously reported. According to Luo, Ma thinks that if China wants cross-strait relations to improve, it should try to imagine the feelings of the Taiwan people, whom Ma said would never come to terms with China's deployment of missiles targeting them.

Ma, who is scheduled to take office May 20, will not change his position on the issue, Luo said.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said the recent increase in the number of missiles aimed by rival China at the self-governing island would only cause further resentment among the Taiwan people.

"China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said in a recent news conference that the missiles are not aimed at Taiwan, but Taiwan's separatists.

"The problem is: would the missiles be able to tell who are separatists and who are not?" said Jonathan Liu, spokesman for the MAC. He said all people in Taiwan, regardless of their political tendency, feel the threat from China.

"Using the missiles to aim at Taiwan would only cause further resentment from the Taiwanese people," Liu said.

His comments came after the Washington Post quoted an unnamed Pentagon source as saying on Friday that the number of missiles China has deployed on its coastline facing Taiwan has increased to 1,400 from the 1,000 reported by the Pentagon earlier this month.

Taiwan and China split at the end of a civil war in 1949. Beijing has repeatedly threatened to attack the island should it declare formal independence.

Ma's proposals to engage China and normalize cross-strait economic exchanges have been seen as more acceptable to Beijing.

Incumbent President Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence rhetoric and moves to promote the island's autonomy have seriously irked China and escalated cross-strait tension.

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