10/18/10 at 9:45 AM
China’s recent belligerence toward Japan has worried its neighbors, including Taiwan, which the mainland regards as a prodigal son. China has been drawing Taiwan closer with improved trade links, and the June signing of a breakthrough free-trade agreement between the two entities will bind Taiwan’s economy even tighter to the mainland’s. Yet while both sides speak of improved relations, economic ties haven’t led to substantial political improvements. In fact, military tensions between the two are increasing. Despite Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s vague reassurances that his government will withdraw 1,600-plus missiles pointing at the island, Taiwan’s deputy defense minister has said that the mainland military threat is growing. Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou just announced that the country will keep buying arms internationally, and China’s defense minister, in a recent meeting with his U.S. counterpart, said that Taiwan remains the main point of contention between the two superpowers.