A senior Chinese leader yesterday urged a major port city, Xiamen, which is on the frontline with Taiwan and an important center for Taiwanese investment, to do more for the people of Taiwan ahead of next month’s elections.
Beijing has dangled the possibility of yet further economic incentives for Taipei, likely to be hit hard should the global economy spiral into crisis next year, hoping to encourage the re-election of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Ma has signed a series of economic and tourist agreements with Beijing since becoming president in 2008, though there have been no political talks and deep mistrust remains.
Speaking in Xiamen, which in parts lies just a few hundred meters from some of Taiwan’s outlying islands, Politburo Standing Committee member He Guoqiang (賀國強) said the city should actively court Taiwan and its business community.
Xiamen “should make endeavors to become a convenient channel for cross-strait exchanges, further strengthen people-to-people exchanges, as well as expand mutual understanding so as to become a lively platform for cross-strait exchanges,” said He, who is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle.
He pledged to further protect the rights of Taiwanese and urged Xiamen to “enthusiastically do more good deeds and take actual steps to help Taiwanese compatriots.”
He was speaking at an event to mark 30 years since Xiamen became a special economic zone, set up to boost economic development and entice Taiwanese to invest in China.
He did not directly mention next month’s presidential polls, repeating only that China remained committed to seeking “reunification” with Taiwan.
“Promoting cross-strait peace and development and completing the great task of unification of the motherland are the common aspirations of all the sons and daughters of China, including Taiwan compatriots,” He said.
While Beijing says it will not interfere in the elections, it has made little secret of its distaste for the Democratic Progressive Party, even as its presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), tries to lay out a more moderate line.