Date
20 October 2017
Taiwan and mainland China are still far apart politically, Ma Ying-jeou says. Photo: Reuters
Taiwan and mainland China are still far apart politically, Ma Ying-jeou says. Photo: Reuters

Ma: Taiwan not ready for unification with China

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou said the island was not ready to discuss unification with China, sending a firm message to an increasingly assertive mainland eager to absorb what it considers a renegade province.

Ma, 65, told Reuters in an exclusive interview Thursday that, although the economic and social gaps between the democratic island and its giant communist neighbor were narrowing, their political differences remained wide.

“The political situation between the two sides is still very different,” said Ma, speaking on the day China was celebrating its National Day.

“I think to discuss matters, such as unification, is not very suitable. Taiwan is not ready.”

Although his eight-year presidency has been characterized by warming business ties with China, Ma, who steps down next year owing to term limits, repeated how “the time was not yet ripe” for unification talks between the once bitter enemies.

His comments underscore how far Taiwan has moved from embracing China following massive protests on the island last year against a cross-strait trade pact and the weakening of Ma’s pro-China Kuomintang party.

Chinese special forces held mock battles at the Zhurihe training base in Inner Mongolia using a full-scale model of Taiwan’s presidential office and nearby government buildings and roads, a report by the Taiwanese defence ministry said last month.

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CG/FL

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