Taiwan says too early to pull out troops near China

Experts estimate the Chinese PLA has over 1,600 missiles aimed at Taiwan.

Taipei: Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has turned down a proposal to withdraw troops from islets near southeast China`s Xiamen city, arguing the move would be premature, an official said on Thursday.

Liao Wan-lung, a senior member of the ruling Kuomintang party, recommended to Ma during a party meeting on Wednesday that Taiwan pull out troops stationed on the islands of Tatan and Ertan as an olive branch to Beijing.

Ma dismissed the proposal, saying "the time is not yet ripe”, without going into further details, according to Kuomintang spokesman Su Chun-pin.

Analysts say the military threat from China still haunts Taiwan`s ties with its giant neighbour although decades-old hostility has been reduced since May 2008, when Ma assumed power in Taipei.

"There is a long, long way to go before a withdrawal can be carried out," said George Tsai, a political science professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei.

"Factors like the Taiwan people`s concerns as well as possible reactions from Beijing and Washington all need to be taken into consideration."

Although Taiwan and China have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, Beijing still considers the island part of its territory and has vowed to take it back even if it means war.

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

Bureau Report

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