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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Fujian plan bound to fail

Fujian plan bound to fail

With the Chinese economy facing headwinds, Beijing on Thursday last week unveiled a plan to set up an “integrated development demonstration zone” in its Fujian Province to encourage Taiwanese to emigrate or invest there, even as it has deployed a record number of military planes and ships to threaten Taiwan.

It is another example of China using the carrot and the stick.

The Fujian plan, which is being overseen by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and State Council, has 21 measures to promote integrated development with Taiwan and says that China has made “concessions” to facilitate Taiwanese living, working, studying and conducting business in Fujian, which include buying property and the enrollment of Taiwanese students in public schools. It has a goal of providing a business environment for Taiwanese to deepen Fujian-Taiwan industrial cooperation and develop a cross-strait financial market.

The measures seek to integrate development of Fujian’s Xiamen City and Kinmen County, as well as Fuzhou and Lienchiang County. They include a model for Xiamen-Kinmen joint infrastructure development, facilitating supplies of electricity and gas, and a bridge from Xiamen to Kinmen.

This Fujian plan is obviously another “united front” campaign as China seeks to unify with Taiwan.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Deputy Director Pan Xianzhang (潘賢掌) has called the zone “a major initiative to consolidate the foundation for peaceful reunification.”

It could also be a pioneer project for China’s “one country, two systems” proposal, which has been rejected by the vast majority of Taiwanese. The Chinese state-funded Global Times has said the plan is “outlining the future development blueprint of Taiwan island,” while being oblivious to the unwillingness of Taiwanese and their right to self-determination.

The plan was announced even as China struggles with a high youth unemployment rate, a collapsing real-estate market, systemic risks in its financial system and a deteriorating business environment that has driven foreign investment away.

Some lawmakers in Taiwan have said that the Chinese proposal is a trap to gain funds and talent to boost China’s economic environment. It seems to be a compilation of other Chinese policies and measures, such as the 2011 Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental District free-trade plan and the 2018 “31 Taiwan-related Measures” that encouraged Taiwanese to relocate to China.

Beijing has proposed these campaigns to win over Taiwanese, but they have all been empty promises and failed. History indicates that the collapse of the Fujian project is just around the corner.

US President Joe Biden at the G20 summit last week said that China would not have the same capacity as before to invade Taiwan while Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) “has his hands full” coping with economic problems at home.

However, Xi has also long advocated “reunification” with Taiwan without war, although he has never ruled out the use of force.

Pairing economic incentives with military coercion is a trick China has employed for years, and there is little doubt that the latest “integration” plan was announced with an eye on Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections, which are four months away.

The Fujian project seems destined to fail economically, but Taiwanese should be alert to its political aspect, the “unification” goal and the desire Beijing has to affect their elections.

Moreover, echoes of the plan proposed in Taiwan — such as an independent candidate’s “Kinmen peace initiative based on one China” and the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) “cross-strait demonstration economic zone” — are disguised “united front” campaigns that should be regarded with great suspicion.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2023/09/20

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A paramilitary police officer stands guard at Tiananmen Square in Beijing yesterday on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Photo: EPA-EFE

Beijing yesterday marked 30 years since the Tiananmen Square Massacre with a wall of silence and extra security.