It is not difficult to understand why Hong Kong opened up unregulated travel for Chinese tourists and why markets for diamonds, precious metals and luxury items have been so strong.
China’s neighbors have also seen the huge financial profits made by providing outlets for money laundering. Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Macao and Jeju Island in South Korea have been falling over themselves to establish large casinos, with Vladivostok in Russia looking to do the same. They have all focused on the wealthy Chinese minority.
Casino resorts need to look like healthy places suitable for families, otherwise seemingly well-to-do bigwigs will not use them to launder their dirty money.
Therefore, while it may seem like China is letting its neighbors reap the benefits of economic growth by not establishing legal casinos within its own borders, it is really using them as cesspools.
If morals are put aside and the proposed gambling zones are looked at closely, the nation will have to concede benefits to China while taking on the stress of management and cope with the resulting negative consequences and social costs.
This is a disadvantageous and absurd situation for Taiwan. Matsu, given its small size and limitations caused by a lack of water and power resources, will also be unable to develop a strong gaming industry.
The gambling industry is part of the “black economy.” Money laundering and violence resulting from organized crime will always be problems in such an environment.
It is ironic in a historical sense that Matsu, a place that was once the frontline in the battle between Taiwan and China, can now be viewed as a place where money will be made with historical grievances thrown out the window.
Finally, the nation may end up being used as a place to launder dirty Chinese money, which is a potential threat to the governments of both sides of the Taiwan Strait and is something civil society should stand united against.
Pan Han-shen is a central executive committee member of the Green Party Taiwan.
Translated by Drew Cameron