Taiwan's military 'activities' could force China talks

The country's President told the outgoing head of the United States Pacific Command that "activities" by the Chinese army could force the island to enter into political talks with Beijing, according to an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

The cable described a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and Admiral Timothy Keating on 15 December 2009 – weeks after Admiral Keating left his post. He was one of the most senior American officials involved in planning the US military in the western Pacific, including in the Taiwan Strait, the 100-mile-wide maritime corridor dividing China from Taiwan. The American cable quoted Mr Ma as saying: "Despite warming economic ties, [China's] military posture across the strait remains unchanged. [People's Liberation Army] activities in recent months demonstrated that Taiwan may need to move beyond economic discussions into political discussions with the mainland."

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949 and Beijing continues to regard the island as part of its territory, to be taken over by persuasion if possible, by force if necessary.

On taking office in May 2008, Mr Ma pivoted sharply away from his predecessor's anti-China policies, engaging Beijing in a series of economic agreements that have helped to reduce tensions to their lowest level in six decades.