Think tank proposes use of islands as ‘gateway’

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - Page 3

A bold proposal by a pro-Taiwan independence think tank to make the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu a “gateway” for further cross-strait integration received a mixed response yesterday.

The recommendation, presented by Taiwan Thinktank earlier this month, suggested allowing dual currencies, direct transportation links and resource sharing on the islands, adopting the same format that exists between Hong Kong, Macau and China.

The think tank report argued that Taiwan should seek to seize the opportunity to forge closer official and unofficial relations between the islands and the Western Taiwan Strait Economic Zone, proposed by China’s Fujian Province, and make Kinmen and Matsu — which used to benefit from the “small three links” — the first official exchange between Taiwan and China.

The measures would “add value” to the two islands, which have been marginalized since the implementation of the three links and closer bilateral exchanges.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has yet to officially respond to the proposal.

Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is no stranger to China affairs, having served as Mainland Affairs Council chairperson, said she would have to study the details before making further comment.

“However, the relationship between Kinmen, Matsu and the Western Taiwan Strait Economic Zone are two different things,” she said.

“It would take comprehensive evaluation to determine the islands’ role in cross-strait engagement,” she added.

DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), who serves as chairman of the think tank, said all bilateral engagements should be implemented on the preconditions of reciprocity and the protection of national security.

However, the DPP should be actively and pragmatically promoting policies that benefit cross-strait ties, Lin said.

“The DPP administration’s China policy of ‘proactive liberalization and effective management’ was supported by the Taiwanese public,” Lin said.

“It is time to be proactive again,” Lin added.