China eyes economic integration with Taiwan’s Matsu Islands


The Taiwanese authorities have identified these measures as a threat to national security. …reports Asian Lite News

China has announced a raft of proposals that target Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, also known as Lienchiang County, for economic integration and to establish greater political influence over the island nation, reported Taiwan News.

The Taiwanese authorities have identified these measures as a threat to national security. As an outlying territory so close to China, Beijing hopes that economic links can be used to coerce the local government and population of the county to willingly accept Chinese administration.

10-point plan aims at increasing shipping and investment between Fuzhou and the Matsu Islands, which are about 20 km apart.

Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), along with the local government, organized the 26th Cross-Straits Fair for Economy and Trade from May 16 to 19 in Fuzhou, the capital of China’s Fujian Province, Taiwan News reported.

The proposals would allow Matsu residents discounted rides on transportation and hotels in Fuzhou, free tours of Fuzhou’s major cultural attractions, housing benefits, and dedicated hotline consultation for children’s education, employment, and entrepreneurship.

There are also plans for an industrial cooperation zone that will make it easier for Taiwanese citizens in Matsu to establish businesses in Fujian. Additionally, China has pledged USD 1.38 billion each year to promote business links and offer Matsu residents the same property rights as Chinese citizens, reported Taiwan News.

Fuzhou aims to attract young Matsu residents with educational exchange opportunities and entice travelers with incentives related to tours and accommodation, like Fuzhou-Matsu city passes announced in February.

The Chinese authorities are also planning to create a cross-strait distribution centre in Fuzhou with an annual budget of USD 5.5 million to facilitate increased trade, shipping, and economic exchanges with Lienchiang County.

The proposals aimed at Matsu island are part of China’s plan to establish a Fujian Cross-Strait Integration and Development Demonstration Zone, announced last September.

China aims to use trade and finance strategies along with infrastructure projects to annex Taiwan’s outlying territories of Kinmen and Matsu initially, to be followed by Penghu and then the main island of Taiwan, according to Taiwan News.

Recently, Taiwan’s authorities have raised concerns about China’s efforts to target Lienchiang County.

Reportedly, more than 3,000 individuals have applied for the Fuzhou-Matsu City passes, which provide RMB 300 for free to people who travel to Fuzhou.

Additionally, the local Lienchiang County government is helping residents apply for prepaid cards, which some believe could directly violate Taiwan’s law governing cross-strait relations.

The Magistrate of Lienchiang County, Wang Chung-ming, has been vocal in promoting a 27.2-kilometre bridge directly linking Matsu to Fujian.

The magistrate also promotes the infrastructure project as a means to connect Matsu’s Nangan Island to Langqi Island and Fujian’s highway network. (ANI)

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