Premier Wen Jiabao said during his work report to the National People’s Congress (NPC) that China was ready for peace talks with Taiwan, Reuters reported. Although Beijing has in the past vowed to use force to bring the island – which it regards as a renegade province – under mainland rule, relations between the two sides have warmed since the election of Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou. Wen said in his address that China was now "ready to create conditions for ending the state of hostility." A spokesman for Ma noted that a peace deal must have advantages for both sides. With its economy troubled by recession, Taiwan’s thought "is first to seek economic deals and political ones later," the spokesman said. China is the island’s largest trading partner and bilateral trade is worth more than US$130 billion a year. At the same time, much of the mainland’s firepower remains trained on Taiwan. On Wednesday, Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the NPC, said military spending would grow 14.9% year-on-year to US$70.2 billion in 2009.
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