Ralph Jennings of Reuters is reporting that a Chinese Nationalist Party claimed that China had promised to stop its missile build up and then to reduce the number of missiles facing Taiwan:

Last week, when KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung visited senior leaders in Beijing, including President Hu Jintao, he asked about the missiles and was told China would stop deploying them ahead of a gradual reduction, a party spokeswoman and local media said.

“It was a friendly reaction,” said spokeswoman Chen Shu-jung. China did not set a timeline or estimate how many missiles might be removed. “They haven’t done anything yet to follow up.”

A reduction of missiles would cool a potential Asia-Pacific flashpoint and please the United States, which wants good relations with both sides and favours the status quo.

Right. So the news, which I found on the WaPo blog of Beijing reporter John Pomfret, also states that:

In another sign of improved relations, Chinese officials also want Taiwan to offer a proposal on its bid to participate in the World Health Organisation, according to local news reports.

Last week Chinese President Hu Jintao mentioned giving diplomatically isolated Taiwan more international space.

Some reality here: even if China slashes the missiles by half, that will merely return us to the position of the year 2000, when China had 600 or 700 missiles facing us — and they will be much better missiles. Despite overwrought claims, the missiles can hardly destroy the island, but they are an important symbol of China’s ultimate intentions. More deadly by far are the hundreds of aircraft facing Taiwan, and the military modernization program. I’d like to see the military threat actually terminated, not mere cosmetic changes in the number of missiles (which can easily be increased at any time simply by returning removed missiles to their sites). In any case, the savings on missiles will simply be invested in some other military threat.

Of course, this comes from a KMT party source, so we need to wait for more reliable source to confirm.

As for WHO entry, it would seem incredible if it granted Taiwan any degree of autonomy. Remember the cowardly and illegal secret MOU that the WHO signed with the PRC about Taiwan (from here):

In the course of our research on these areas outside the global surveillance system we obtained a copy of a memorandum of understanding between the WHO and the PRC that set out the circumstances in which contact with Taiwan could take place. While it was an honest attempt by the WHO to make things work, the guidance was totally inappropriate for dealing with an emergency. Permission had to be sought from the Chinese contact point in Geneva 5 weeks in advance of making contact. The PRC contact point could decide which Taiwanese experts should be contacted. If Taiwanese experts were invited to technical meetings an expert of similar status should be included. Taiwanese citizens were not permitted to attend WHO meetings as members of NGO delegations. Most bizarrely, because writing “Taiwan” on an envelope (necessary if it was to reach its destination) would imply recognition of its independence in the view of the PRC, all paper communications had to be faxed.

That’s our future in the WHO under the benevolence of China. And what name shall we join under?