Fujian moves reflect China’s bid to ‘localize’ issue: Expert

-

Taipei, May 1 (CNA) A recent announcement of 13 measures by Fujian province to benefit Taiwanese showed that Beijing wants to “localize” the Strait by asserting Taiwan as a province of China, an expert has said.

During a visit to Beijing from April 26 to 28 by 17 opposition Kuomintang (KMT) legislators, Fujian announced measures to benefit Taiwanese, including helping Taiwanese in China handle reimbursements of medical expenses under Taiwan’s national health insurance system.

Another of the measures was launching a “Fujian-Matsu City Pass” for residents of the Taiwan-controlled Matsu islands.

Tzeng Wei-feng (曾偉峯), an assistant research fellow at National Chengchi ’s Institute of International Relations, said the moves reflected China’s efforts to localize the Taiwan Strait and assert Taiwan as a province of China, which only requires coordination between provinces, not between countries.

“I believe these measures will be somewhat appealing to residents of Kinmen and Matsu…but for residents on Taiwan, I think they will have less interest,” Tzeng told CNA.

Beijing also announced measures benefiting Taiwan during the KMT delegation’s visit, including once again allowing tourists from Fujian to travel to the Matsu Islands, and summarizing access to China’s market for some of Taiwan’s agricultural and fishery products.

Analysts interpreted these measures as a move by Beijing to put pressure on President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) ahead of his inaugural speech on May 20.

National Taiwan Normal University professor Huang Hsin-hao (黃信豪) said the beneficial measures announced by Beijing can be seen as signals to Lai, which might influence his inaugural speech to “not read too much toward Taiwan independence.”

China’s moves were also related to the situation in Taiwan’s Legislature where none of the three major parties hold an absolute majority, allowing Beijing some leeway to take a softer approach, said Huang, who specializes in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) politics.

Echoing Huang’s views was Chao Chun-shan (趙春山), an honorary professor with the Graduate Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University.

-

Chao said Beijing has put pressure on Lai’s incoming administration by actively proposing measures and conveying messages in anticipation of responses.

“Beijing hopes that Lai will provide a more positive and proactive response regarding cross-Taiwan Strait relations in his speech on May 20…and not mention phrases that could easily escalate hostilities between the two sides,” Chao said.

In addition, Beijing’s actions were intended to demonstrate to the States its sincerity in improving relations across the Taiwan Strait, especially after US Secretary of State Blinken’s visit to China from April 24 to 26, he said.

“The US hopes for dialogue between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and Beijing’s current message is that at least in terms of tourism and some other aspects, the two sides can have a discussion,” Chao added.

China, however, also sent 12 military aircraft across the median line of the Taiwan Strait on April 27, and many observers wondered why China would conduct that kind of military exercise while the KMT ruled were in Beijing.

Tzeng argued that it was part of a two-pronged strategy that has been practiced by the CCP government, which involves different chains of command in China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and the People’s Liberation Army.

If top CCP leaders, such as Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), perceive no substantial progress in cross-strait relations, they are unlikely to exert pressure on the Central Military Commission to cease military exercises around Taiwan, Tzeng said.

(By Sunny Lai)

Enditem/ls

-

-

PREV At Least 11, Including Students, Killed in Subang Accident
NEXT Socialists win at local level but region heads for a stalemate – The Irish Times