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Friday, September 22, 2023

China’s Ambitious ‘Integration’ Plan for Taiwan Sparks Concerns Amid Military Maneuvers

Some people believe that Taiwanese youth might struggle to adapt to China's political environment

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CHINA/TAIWAN: China has unveiled an ambitious plan for integrated development with Taiwan, aiming to streamline the lives of Taiwanese citizens. However, this initiative is accompanied by a significant show of military force, raising concerns about the path ahead.

The State Council and Central Committee of China’s ruling Communist Party have designated Fujian province as a “demonstration zone” for integrated development, outlining 21 initiatives to promote cross-strait cooperation.

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These include improving social services for Taiwanese citizens, increasing Taiwanese student enrollment in Fujian schools, and enhancing industrial collaboration.

Additionally, the plan introduces the concept of “pair cities” such as Xiamen, Kinmen, Fuzhou, and Matsu, which share cultural and economic ties with Taiwan.

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However, this proposal has been met with skepticism in Taiwan. Some Taiwanese media outlets express concerns about Chinese investment in Fujian’s real estate market, citing the recent instability in China’s real estate sector. Locals in Taipei have also voiced reservations, with some deeming it “risky.” There are worries about potential repercussions for dissenting views.

While there are concerns, there are also varying opinions within Taiwan. Some people believe that Taiwanese youth might struggle to adapt to China’s political environment. In contrast, others are interested in increasing student and industry exchanges.

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The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently launched a carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier Shandong in the western Pacific, while Taiwan observed increased military activity in the Taiwan Strait.

Experts warn that any collision between these forces could mark the largest drills involving a Chinese aircraft carrier. General Huang Wen-chi, Taiwan’s top military official, considers the Shandong’s presence a new threat.

The upcoming Taiwanese presidential election is expected to be influenced by China’s campaign, with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) currently leading the race. However, opposition parties and a growing portion of Taiwan’s population reject Chinese authority.

The DPP’s vice president, Lai Ching-te, is the front-runner for the presidency. China ceased official talks with Taipei after Tsai’s 2016 election victory, signaling increased opposition to Chinese authority in Taiwan.

Rorry Daniels, managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute, notes the mixed messaging from China, with military drills coinciding with a peaceful integration strategy. He suggests that Taiwanese individuals should explore business opportunities on the mainland despite these challenges.

In this complex and evolving situation, the world watches closely to see how China’s “integration” plan for Taiwan unfolds and its impact on the region’s stability.

Also Read: High-Stakes Maldives Election Garners Close Scrutiny from India and China


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