Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 13:26 UK

Taiwan hails stronger China ties

Ma Ying-jeou during his one year anniversary press conference
Ma Ying-jeou said it had been a "fruitful year"

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has said efforts to improve ties with China have helped bring peace to the region.

Speaking to mark his first year in office, he said it had been a "fruitful year" for cross-strait ties.

But he also urged Beijing to remove its many missiles that remain pointed towards Taiwan.

In the past, Beijing has threatened to use force to bring the self-governed island under mainland control if it declared formal independence.

'Conduit of peace'

Relations between China and Taiwan were strained under Mr Ma's predecessor Chen Shui-bian, who had what Beijing saw as a provocative pro-independence stance.

But Mr Ma has made improving ties with China one of the main priorities of his administration.

"In one year, we have transformed the strait from a dangerous flashpoint to a conduit of peace and prosperity," he told reporters.

Under Mr Ma's leadership, Beijing and Taipei have signed nine agreements on economic co-operation, including deals on direct flights.

Taiwan is also currently attending a World Health Organization conference for the first time in nearly four decades, suggesting that Beijing has dropped its long-standing opposition to Taiwan's inclusion in such meetings.

Critics of Mr Ma, including many members of the opposition, claim his policies are pandering to China while getting little in return.

In his speech, Mr Ma acknowledged that there were challenges ahead, and said: "It will take wisdom, perseverance and pragmatism to reach consensus."

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