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Taiwan deflects China's offer to hold military talks

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Beijing should remove its military deployment targeting Taiwan, the island says
  • China regards Taiwan as a renegade province
  • Taiwan says it is an independent country
  • Relations can stay friendly as long as Taiwan stays safe, the island says

(CNN) -- Taiwan responded coolly to China's offer to hold military talks, saying that Beijing should offer to remove its military deployment targeting Taiwan.

"This is the widespread and solemn demand by Taiwan people," its Mainland Affairs Council said in response to the offer made by Beijing on Wednesday.

Taiwan "is an independent country with full sovereignty," said the council, which is a cabinet-level administrative agency.

"We must keep our self-defense capability to keep a healthy and stable cross-strait relationship, on the condition that our safety is not threatened," the council said.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province. Taiwan began as the remnant of the government that ruled over mainland China, until a communist uprising proved victorious in 1949.

The Taiwan Strait separates the mainland from the island.

"We advocate conducting contacts and exchanges on military issues, including the cross-straits military deployment issue, in a proper way at a proper time," Yang Yi, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Wednesday at a news briefing in Beijing.

In 1979, the United States carried out its "one China" policy by switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. But the Taiwan Relations Act obligates the United States to help defend the island if needed. The United States also is Taiwan's main arms supplier.

Beijing broke off military contacts with Washington early this year to protest its selling of more than $6 billion worth of arms to Taiwan. The sale included Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and communications equipment, which Taiwan said it needed for self defense.

In an interview with CNN in May, President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan said the island will never ask the United States to fight against China on its behalf.

"We will continue to reduce the risks, so that we will purchase arms from the United States, but we will never ask the Americans to fight for Taiwan," Ma said. "This is something that is very, very clear."

He added that the risk to the United States of a conflict between China and Taiwan is the lowest in 60 years as a result of his government's efforts to build a rapprochement with Beijing.

"In the last two years, as a result of our efforts to improve relations with the Chinese mainland, we have already defused the tension to a great extent," said Ma, whom China regards as Beijing-friendly.