Taiwan renews call on China to remove missiles

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan on Wednesday renewed its call on China to withdraw more than 1,000 missiles targeting the island amid improving ties between the formal bitter rivals.

"If the Chinese side wants to show goodwill, it actually can voluntarily remove the missiles. This does not require cross-strait negotiations," Mr Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's top China policy maker, said at a parliamentary session.

Although Taiwan has been governed separately from mainland China since a civil war ended in 1949, Beijing still claims the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Taiwanese experts estimate the People's Liberation Army has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.

Mr Wang's predecessor, Lai Shin-yuan, had made the same call in 2011, saying it was a precondition for reaching a peace treaty with Beijing to put a formal end to the civil war fought more than 60 years ago.

Mr Wang told the United Daily News that Taiwan would not shun discussing practical political matters with China, such as swapping representative offices, but there was no urgency for a "purely political issue" such as the peace treaty.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased markedly since 2008 after Mr Ma Ying-jeou became the island's president on a Beijing-friendly platform. He was reelected in 2012 for a final four-year term.

The past five years have seen closer economic cooperation between the two sides but Mr Ma has said repeatedly that the missiles remain a major obstacle to improved relations.