Can the "small three links" promote the development of Kinmen and Matsu ? The legal basis for the ill-fated small three links trial run was the Offshore Islands Development Act (
On the one hand, the links pose a threat to the security of Kinmen and Matsu. On the other hand, what substantive economic benefits will they bring to Kinmen and Matsu so as to boost their development? What we have seen so far is that security concerns far outweigh economic development benefits.
The biggest hope of Kinmen and Matsu residents is for the small three links to turn the islands into transit points between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. This will be difficult to accomplish due to security concerns. The only substantive benefits to Kinmen and Matsu are that decriminalization of small-scale trade may enable the residents to buy fresher and cheaper agricultural produce, criminal acts such as smuggling and illegal migration will be reduced, travel costs to Xiamen will be cut, and the "registered population" of the islands will increase. The difficulties developing offshore islands such as Kinmen and Matsu face are by no means unique.
Even though the small three links have become a focus of public attention, their essential purpose is being overlooked. Shouldn't we sit back and consider what exactly the offshore islands mean to Taiwan's overall development? The state has long ignored the development of its offshore islands, and their residents often feel like they are second-class citizens. In particular, military control put Kinmen and Matsu under greater restrictions than other areas.
Manufacturing industries are especially stifled by their hinterland locations and raw material costs. It will be difficult for the islands to develop manufacturing industries like Taiwan proper because the advantages many other offshore islands have are not found there. Even if the government insists on going in this direction, it will be difficult to reap any benefits. In fact, the most important assets of the islands are their rich tourism resources.
A planned, integrated development of these resources should revitalize the islands. Unfortunately, unregulated tourist activities are gradually destroying the beautiful underwater landscapes -- around Green Island, for example. We do not see any clear, appropriate development strategy for the offshore islands. What we are seeing instead is the continual harping on "tourist casinos." Does the ROC government truly want to encourage its citizens to give up their virtues of diligence and thrift in favor of adventurism? Does the government really want to put so little thought into long-term planning and not allow the residents to share the state resources they have long been denied?
The offshore islands should not be viewed as bargaining chips in cross-strait politics. We should try to understand their unique features, utilize their advantages, and develop industries that are beneficial to them. While developing the economy of Taiwan proper, we should also help the offshore islands find their place and enable them to compete globally. In fact, for most residents of the offshore islands, whether or not the small three links will succeed is not the point. What they are looking for is a future for their home towns. Can they enjoy the same dignity and respect as the residents of Taiwan proper? They are not asking for much and it only takes a little attention from the government.
Yen Ching-fu is a DPP legislator.
Translated by Francis Huang
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
There have been media reports that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plans to hold military exercises in August to simulate seizing the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) in the South China Sea. In the past, only Coast Guard Administration (CGA) personnel have been stationed there, but the Ministry of National Defense has dispatched the Republic of China Marine Corps to the islands, nominally for “ex-situ training,” to prevent a Chinese attack under the guise of military drills. The move is only a temporary measure and not sufficiently proactive. Instead, the government should officially declare sovereignty over the islands and station troops
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic