China should refrain from political overtones when promoting cross-strait cooperation on Pingtan Island because more than 80 percent of Taiwanese reject China’s “one country, two systems” formula, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.
The formula governed the return of former British colony Hong Kong to Chinese rule after 1997, in which the territory was allowed to keep its capitalist economy and British common law traditions for 50 years, while Beijing controls all foreign and defense policy.
Stopping short of saying that the government discourages investment in the Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Zone, located on Pingtan Island in China’s Fujian Province, the council reminded Taiwanese that it is not a “co-pilot” project sponsored by the Taiwanese government.
The council issued the statement yesterday ahead of the departure today by a delegation of government officials, to be led by Straits Exchange Foundation Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉), for a seven-day visit to southeastern China, including a tour of the zone.
Developed by China’s Fujian Provincial Government to become a pilot area for cross-strait cooperation, the Pingtan project is the centerpiece of Beijing’s West-Taiwan Strait Economic Zone plan, which has won the backing of China’s State Council.
Fujian Governor Su Shulin (蘇樹林) said on Wednesday that Pingtan is expected to receive more than 260 billion yuan (US$41 billion) in Chinese government subsidies over the next five years for infrastructure development.
China has put too much of a political overtone into the Pingtan project, which in fact was designed in accordance with its “12th five-year plan” that handles cross-strait relationships under the principle of the “one country, two systems” formula, council spokesman Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said yesterday.
It has been proven by survey results over a long period that Taiwanese oppose the “one country, two systems” formula, he said.
While the Chinese have been promoting Pingtan as a cross-strait “co-pilot” project with five aspects — joint planning, joint development, cooperation, joint management and joint benefits — those were “not the facts,” Liu said.
The development of Pingtan would get better results if China focused on economic aspects and “removed unnecessary political factors,” he added.
Taiwanese-based engineering consultants have participated in the design of the project and some Taiwanese have been recruited, but that did not mean that it is the Taiwanese government’s policy to cooperate with China on the project, Liu said.
Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Kao Charng (高長) said that the major difference between the Pingtan project and other special economic areas in China was that China has “made blatant moves” to promote the project and it has “expedient political purposes.”
“It’s fine, [China] can do whatever it likes, but we can’t let it mislead people in Taiwan that it [the project] has the consent of our government,” Kao said.
The council said it was not discouraging people from investing in Pingtan Island.
“We simply want people to have a better understanding about the project and make a thorough risk assessment,” Liu said.
Meanwhile, the Central News Agency yesterday quoted an unnamed Ministry of Economic Affairs official as saying that the Investment Commission would review applications for planned investment in Pingtan by Taiwanese businesses on a case-by-case basis.