Sat, Jul 06, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Localization of cross-strait issues

By Liu Chin-tsai 柳金財

During a visit to Kinmen County to meet Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Kinmen County Commissioner Yang Cheng-wu (楊鎮浯) on June 21, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) indicated that cross-strait relations are a serious strategic issue.

With regard to the “small four links,” a proposal made by the Chinese government at the Straits Forum in Beijing last month to which Yang responded positively, Chen said that three of the four links — electricity, natural gas and bridges — are neither necessary nor urgent at this time, while the water link — with Kinmen importing water from China’s Fujian Province through an undersea pipe to stabilize the islands’ fragile water supply — was implemented last year.

Cross-strait affairs fall under the central government’s authority and are not a simple matter for a local government. The commissioner’s response to the Chinese proposal not only indicates a new round of political games between the central and local governments, but also has the potential effect of localizing cross-strait ties.

On the 40th anniversary of the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan” on Jan. 2, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) introduced and promoted his “five points,” stressing that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait “should promote connectivity wherever necessary.”

Apart from the concept of the “greater four links” — “trade and economic cooperation, infrastructure, energy and resource development, and sharing industrial standards” — Xi also said that China would first realize the “small four links” to connect coastal areas in China’s Fujian Province with Kinmen and Lienchiang County, or Matsu. Xi’s proposed policies would address the needs of Kinmen residents and affect the region’s development.

China’s Taiwan policy emphasizes economic and social integration, while its “one generation, one stratum” strategy — aimed at the younger generation and ordinary Taiwanese — has effectively responded to needs.

Particular attention should be paid to the “one country, two systems formula for Kinmen and Matsu” suggested by Chinese academics as a proposed trial version for China’s version of the “one country, two systems” framework targeting Taiwan.

If demands for the “four small links” are to be met, administrative consistency between central and local governments in cross-strait affairs would certainly be impaired due to different priorities in policy implementation: The central government, led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), stresses the importance of upholding national sovereignty and political autonomy, while local governments administered by the KMT focus on economic interests and people’s livelihoods.

However, the lack of integration in cross-strait policies among the KMT-controlled local governments has made it difficult for the party to exert pressure upon the central government, despite holding a majority of local administrations.

Organizers of the Straits Forum said that more than 10,000 Taiwanese — or 40 percent of participants — attended, with about half of them young people.

However, among the 15 local governments led by the KMT, only the commissioners of the three outlying counties — Kinmen, Lienchiang and Penghu — attended, while the other 12 KMT-run local governments refrained after the DPP administration strongly advised against participation.

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