Editor’s note: Liu Kuangyu is an associate research fellow with the Taiwan Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The article reflects the author’s views, and not necessarily those of CGTN.
On September 12, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council officially issued the “Opinions on Supporting Fujian to Explore a New Road of Cross-Straits Integrated Development and Building a Demonstration Zone for Cross-Straits Integrated Development (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Opinions’ )”.
Fujian Province is the most ideal choice for a demonstration zone. It is closely and uniquely linked with Taiwan by geographical, kinship, cultural, commercial and legal ties, enjoying close exchanges and convenient transportation with Taiwan.
Through Fujian’s pioneering trial, the integrated development of the two sides across the Straits will be expanded to a wider area and deeper level, showing the mainland’s confidence and willingness to firmly adhere to the path of peace and integrated development while promoting the complete reunification of the motherland.
We can observe the strategic significance of the document from its timing.
From a micro perspective, current cross-Straits relations are still in a relatively tense and complex stage. The provocations of Taiwan independence separatist forces on the island and external forces have constantly created a dangerous situation of “decoupling and breaking the chain”, potentially “inducing war” between the two sides.
On the other hand, the mainland maintains strategic focus and resolutely promotes warm and deepening cross-Straits exchanges and interactions in all aspects. The release of this document at this time shows that the mainland will continue to inject peaceful positive energy and development momentum into all aspects of cross-Straits relations, suppressing destructive forces of division and differentiation with peace and integration.
From a macro perspective, the mainland stands at a new starting point of new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, a new development pattern and Chinese-style modernization. Cross-Straits relations in the new era not only concern national reunification, but would also resonate with national rejuvenation.
The “Opinions” systematically reflects the mainland’s new thinking strategy in handling the Taiwan question and managing cross-Straits relations at a new period in which the timeframes of the Two Centenary Goals converge.
Consequently it understands and conforms to the mainstream public opinion on the island that the two sides should have peace, development, exchanges and cooperation, as well as the expectations and calls from all walks of life across the Straits for further deepening the institutionalization of cross-Straits relations and the systematization of public policies on Taiwan.
Therefore, this high-level document condenses the Chinese mainland’s forward-looking and systematic strategic thinking in dealing with the Taiwan question, making clear the methodology and roadmap for deepening the integrated development of various fields across the Taiwan Straits, and helping clarify top-level design, gathering joint efforts for development, and promoting the high-quality development of work on Taiwan.
The document covers a wide range of areas, providing policies with high values, clearing obstacles for the integrated development of the two sides from all aspects, providing greater, broader and more favorable space and conditions, and sending out positive political signals.
The document proposes 21 specific measures. Some of them are policy experiments that have been initiated in Fujian Province, being declared, authorized and promoted at the national level through the “Opinions”. There are many other elements, which are the policy highlights being proposed for the first time. In the economic and trade field, there are three main policy directions:
The first is to build a base for Taiwan compatriots and Taiwan enterprises to land on the mainland, which involves enriching exchange routes for Taiwan compatriots, promoting Taiwan students to study in Fujian, furthering employment opportunities for those on the mainland, expanding their social participation, supporting their lives in Fujian Province, and improving Taiwan-related judicial services.
These policies involve all aspects of Taiwan compatriots coming to the mainland to live, work and study, which can better mobilize the resources of Fujian Province as a whole , in conformity with the 255 relevant policies already introduced, and further promoting the integration of these compatriots into mainland society.
In particular, the innovative proposal to expand the participation of Taiwan compatriots in the mainland’s rural revitalization and urban administration development, as well as serving as heads of non-religious groups, etc., proves a strong policy guiding the mainland’s overall work toward Taiwan.
The second is to promote the deep integration of Fujian and Taiwan economies and trade, including optimizing the Taiwan-related business environment, deepening industrial cooperation, fully promoting the development of Taiwan’s agriculture, fisheries and small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as strengthening cooperation in science and technology innovation.
In the economic field, the goal of building Fujian into a cross-Straits integrated development demonstration zone is clearer and its responsibilities are more specific, which is conducive to further optimizing the Taiwan-related business environment and deepening cross-Straits industrial cooperation. It will create a specific policy stimulus effect, making the industrial chains of the two sides better connected, and also help Fujian to better explore a new road of cross-Straits integration and development, playing a more positive role, and striving to solve the financing difficulties of Taiwan businessmen and Taiwan enterprises.
In this way, Taiwan businessmen, especially those in manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries, and small and medium-sized enterprises, can find clear development goals and better integrate into the development of the mainland.
The third is to promote the overall integrated development of Fujian, including supporting Xiamen and Kinmen to accelerate their integrated development, supporting Fuzhou and Matsu to deepen their integrated development, meanwhile accelerating the opening up and development of Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Zone, and promoting the integration practice in other parts of Fujian.
A better demonstration role and synergy can be achieved in regional integration. The concept of two urban living circles mentioned in the “Opinions” is a recent one. After the development of cross-Straits relations in the past few years, the two sides have formed the same-city effect, with convenient exchanges of residents, docking of industrial structures and similar cultural customs.
After the mainland proposed the “new four links”, Jinjiang in Fujian has already supplied water to Kinmen. The planning Xiamen-Kinmen cross-sea bridge has already met the conditions, in terms of technology and funds. Fuzhou and Matsu are also capable of building a large-scale urban living circle. In the future, the functional positioning of the three regions will also be clearer, and more institutional innovation and exploration of cross-Straits integration can be carried out, seeing greater economic benefits for both sides.
To this end, the “Opinions” also put forward three major policy support systems: to give full play to Fujian’s advantages, to promote policy and system innovation, and to provide financial support from the central government.
While the mainland is actively strengthening cross-Straits exchanges, the Taiwan authorities have been colluding with the United States, resulting in significant developments, such as the U.S. approving $500 million in arms sales to Taiwan and providing the island with an initial $80 million military financing loan.
Apparently, there are two forces hedging and confronting radically in the Taiwan Straits: on the one hand, the positive force of promoting peace and harmonious integration, and on the other hand, the negative effects of stoking secessionism and differentiation.
In this stark contrast, it is self-evident who is leading and promoting the development of cross-Straits relations and who is creating obstacles and troubles for the two sides. The international community and people on the island should have a clearer understanding of this.