Taiwan Rejects China’s Economic Integration Plan Amid Rising Tensions
China’s Integrated Development Plan for Fujian Province
China, which perceives Taiwan as part of its territory, recently disclosed initiatives to transform the coastal Fujian province, situated across Taiwan, into a region for integrated development. The Chinese state planner revealed “special” policy measures designed to boost access for Taiwanese businesses to the Fujian province, situated across the Taiwan Strait. Furthermore, China plans to deepen the integrated development of Xiamen, a Chinese city, and the Kinmen Islands, controlled by Taiwan. The proposal includes plans to speed up gas, electricity, and transportation links between these areas.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Strongly Opposes the Initiative
However, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, charged with crafting China-policy, has dismissed this initiative as a unilateral attempt to influence Taiwanese sentiment, which they argue will not succeed. The council accused China of using promises of equal treatment and economic benefits as a tactic to lure Taiwanese citizens and companies into integrating into the mainland’s systems, regulations, and norms, ultimately accepting the leadership of the Communist Party. The Taiwanese government has deemed these plans as “completely wishful thinking.”
Chinese Military Activity Around Taiwan
While proposing new economic opportunities for the Taiwanese, China is also escalating its military activity around the island. This approach, which Beijing has utilized for years, indicates a choice between peaceful reunification and military aggression, particularly ahead of the Taiwanese presidential election next year. Recently, Taiwan’s defense ministry reported spotting several Chinese warplanes and warships near the island, marking the latest in a series of near-daily incursions intended to threaten Taiwan’s government.
Reactions from Taiwanese Residents
Responses to China’s integration plan among Taiwanese residents have been predominantly skeptical. Many have pointed out the current property market crisis in China. Some residents have expressed concern about potential risks associated with investing in property in a communist nation or working in a country where human rights and labor rights are controlled by the government. A few, however, have expressed interest in the proposals to broaden exchanges for students and for the TV and radio industry.
Implications of China’s Economic and Military Strategies
Experts suggest that China’s dual strategy of economic incentives and military coercion of Taiwan is not new. The Fujian plan, they argue, is more performative than substantive, as many policies such as easy access for Taiwanese to the mainland were already in place. Ultimately, this is not an economic plan for integration of China with Taiwan, but a political tool that seeks to drive a wedge between the ruling party and a portion of the electorate that probably does not support the ruling party. As Taiwan prepares for presidential elections in January, it remains to be seen how these strategies will impact the political landscape.
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