TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan may consider a peace treaty with political rival China in 10 years, but only if the Taiwanese people agree and there is sufficient trust between the two sides, President Ma Ying-jeou said on Monday.
Taiwan split from China in 1949 when the nationalists retreated to the island after losing control of the mainland to the communists in a civil war. China has never renounced the use of force to regain control of Taiwan.
Relations between the two have warmed since Ma took office in 2008 and pursued a policy of opening Taiwan to economic relations with China. But military tensions remain, and Ma is under pressure to be seen to be tough on China as he campaigns for re-election at presidential polls in January.
“Under the conditions of a high level of consensus among Taiwan’s people and sufficient trust between the two sides, we could consider a peace treaty with China in 10 years,” Ma told reporters at a briefing on his policy outline for the next 10 years.
Ma is facing a tight battle for re-election and is campaigning on the success of his policy of engaging China economically, which he says has kept the peace between the two.
The opposition says the policy is allowing China too much influence over Taiwan and is a first step towards reunification.
At celebrations last week on both sides marking the 100th anniversary of the 1911 uprising that led to the demise of China’s imperial system, China had warned Taiwan against pursuing independence and called for “reunification by peaceful means”.
Ma in turn called on China to embrace the century-old call for democracy and freedom and to “face the existence” of Taiwan.
Reporting by Roger Tung; writing by Jonathan Standing