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Pacific News Minute: Beijing-Taipei Summit Raises Awkward Question of Chinese Missiles

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State media in China reported positively on this weekend's historic meeting between the Presidents of China and Taiwan - the first such summit since 1949.  Reaction on Taiwan was mixed, particularly on a sore subject: Chinese missiles.  More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Asked about the multitude of ballistic missiles on China's side of the Taiwan Strait - President Xi Jinping replied “the missiles weren't aimed at Taiwan,” a claim that might be charitably described as a diplomatic fiction.

Military analysts believe China has about 1500 missiles targeted on what it regards as its rogue province 110 miles offshore.  And while tourism, trade, and travel between the two Chinas have all burgeoned in recent years - the military buildup has continued as well.  The days when Taiwan could match its giant neighbor ship for ship and plane for plane, are long over.  Last year, The Minister of National Defense estimated that Taiwan could resist a Chinese invasion for no longer than a month.  In previous crises, the United States sent aircraft carrier battle groups to deter any Chinese action.  In response, China developed a ballistic missile specifically designed to hit aircraft carriers on the move in the hope that in a new crisis they might deter the United States.

While no one on either side wants war, China insists on reunification - sooner or later.  While most Taiwanese say not until the mainland becomes a democracy.  As that's a distant prospect - at best some want to declare independence, which Beijing says it will not tolerate.  Taiwan's opposition party - the Democratic Progressives, is deeply skeptical of Beijing and contains pro-independence elements; the DPP now looks set to win both the Presidency and control of the legislature in elections this January.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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