Over the recent Lunar New Year holidays, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) made a special trip to Xiamen in Fujian Province to visit the Zhangpu Development Park for Taiwanese Farmers. This park poses a great threat to Taiwan’s agricultural sector.
Trying to get Taiwanese farmers on its side has been an important part in China’s united-front strategy against Taiwan. Zhangzhou, a city just north of the development park, has worked assiduously to encourage Taiwanese, especially farmers from central and southern Taiwan, to bring their capital, crop and animal varieties, as well as technological and managerial skills, and set up businesses there. The establishment of a development park for farmers to attract Taiwanese businesspeople, farmers and technological know-how is a very clever strategy that has succeeded because of “matchmaking” by retired government officials and disgruntled political hacks from Taiwan.
The Zhangpu development park is located just across the Strait from Taiwan. Many Taiwanese have their family origins here and the local dialect is very similar to the Hoklo, commonly known as Taiwanese. These features made the area the first testing ground for China’s promotion of an experimental cross-strait agricultural cooperative zone.
In April 2006, the development park was established in Zhangzhou City’s Zhangpu County. It included a technological service center, a business development center and six special industrial development zones for flora, fruits and vegetables, tealeaves, fishery and the processing of agricultural and related products, as well as livestock products.
Sixty-eight Taiwanese-owned agricultural companies operate within the park, as well as three individual industrial and commercial households established by Taiwanese farmers. They have invested a total of US$110 million and have an annual production value of 1.5 billion yuan (US$219.8 million).
The park is also introducing almost 200 varieties of high quality Taiwanese species and crops, such as shrimp, red drum, abalone, grouper, beans, tea leaves, high-quality fruit, butterfly orchids and regular orchids.
It covers more than 141,600 hectares, which accounts for two-thirds of the total agricultural land in the entire Zhangpu County. The park is also encouraging the development of more than 30 types of advanced technology like the cross-breeding of Chinese and Taiwanese varieties of shrimp and special packages for fruit and organic goods. The cultivation of butterfly orchids has proven to be a major industry within the park.
The park has an annual production value of flora worth NT$500 million (US$15.6 million) and the flora has been exported to more than 20 western countries.
Taiwanese-owned agricultural businesses have already made US$421 million in foreign exchange from the Zhangzhou region, with an annual export quantity of more than 44,000 tonnes of vegetables, more than 200 tonnes of short necked clam meat, more than 1,150 tonnes of crab meat, more than 3,000 tonnes of products made from ginger and exports of flora that have made as much as US$7 million in foreign exchange.
It is obvious that people setting up businesses in the development park are not only taking Taiwan’s precious resources over there, they are also introducing advanced cultivation techniques and management skills, as well as passing on abundant experience in sales and marketing.