The two-day Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum (國共經貿論壇) held between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) ended on Dec. 21 in Shanghai.
As expected, during the closing ceremony, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Chairman Wang Yi (王毅) announced a series of measures to help Taiwan. These measures included extra financing of up to 130 billion yuan (US$19 billion) for Taiwanese businesspeople investing in China from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC, 中國工商銀行) and other banks, and plans to purchase US$2 billion worth of Taiwanese manufactured flat screen panels.
He also called for Taiwanese businesses to take an active part in construction projects aimed at increasing domestic demand in China, assisting Taiwanese-invested businesses in China to transform and upgrade, encouraging and supporting Taiwanese-invested businesses to carry out innovation, establish farms in China for Taiwanese farmers, increasing the amount of Taiwanese fresh produce sold in China and allowing Taiwanese citizens who meet certain criteria to practice law in China.
On the surface, these measures may seem extremely useful for getting Taiwan out of its current economic woes. However, when viewed rationally, it is easy to see that these measures are nothing but sugar-coated poison pills aimed at gradually and systematically ruining Taiwan, both politically and economically.
Firstly, during the cross-strait forum, China has tried to put itself across as the motherland coming to the rescue of struggling Taiwan. By doing so, it is trying to turn Taiwan into a new Hong Kong or Macau, with the aim of colonizing it economically and politically. Before their respective handovers, both Hong Kong and Macau had flourishing economies and their people enjoyed political freedom, especially in Hong Kong, a primary financial center in Asia. However, after the return of Hong Kong and Macau to China, both their economies fell to a point where they were forced to rely on China’s help.
During the 1997 Asian economic crisis, Hong Kong relied on help from China to escape economic collapse. This, however, also made it impossible for Hong Kong to escape from China’s control. After the handover, Hong Kong’s economy took a turn for the worse and hit rock bottom in 2003 when the territory was gripped by the SARS epidemic. At this time, China managed to create a false sense of prosperity in Hong Kong by measures to boost the economy that included allowing Chinese tourists to travel freely within Hong Kong and ratifying economic agreements that brought the territory closer to China, such as the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.
The false sense of prosperity created in Hong Kong by China means that although the economy may prosper, that prosperity is inextricably linked to China and the decisions its leaders make. In the event that China does not want to help Hong Kong, the territory’s economy would be finished.
Macau’s situation is exactly the same. Now, faced with the financial crisis, although China is having a tough time helping itself, it still is not too much trouble for Beijing to give some assistance to Hong Kong and Macau, since they are relatively small places. In addition, this “assistance” once again confirms China’s ruling status over Hong Kong and Macau.