China issued “Opinions on Supporting Fujian in Exploring New Ways for Cross-Strait Integration and Development and Setting Up a Model District for Cross-Strait Integration and Development” on September 12th, 2023. In this document, there are parts related to Kinmen and Matsu, focusing on prompting the promotion of “power supply, gas supply, and bridge connection” with Kinmen in order to complete the “New Four Links.” And it also supports Kinmen to “share and use Xiamen’s new airport.” The following is a commentary by this writer:
There have been signs of issuing this document long before. Xi Jinping, Geneal Secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), proposed “Xi Five Points” at the occasion in commemorating the 40th anniversary of the release of “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan, ” at the Great Hall of the People on January 2th, 2019. Among them, the fourth point states “deepening cross-strait integration and development and solidifying the foundation for peaceful reunification.” Its specific details include:1. Building a cross-strait common market,2. Promoting “smooth economic and trade cooperation, full connection of infrastructure, mutual access of energy and resources, and common standards of industry (the Four Links),3. Advancing the fulfillments of “water supply, power supply, gas supply, and bridge connection (Mini Four Links)” between Kinmen, Matsu and the coastal areas of Fujian.
In addition, the Xiamen Municipal Government released “Measures of Xiamen Municipality on Exploring a New Way for Cross-Strait Integration and Development,” in a news conference of the 11th Cross-Strait Forum on June 14th, 2019. There are 45 measures including promotion of smooth economic and trade cooperation between Xiamen and Taiwan, fulfilling the “Mini Four Points” between Xiamen and Kinmen, providing equal treatments for Taiwan compatriots and Taiwan industries, increasing the understanding and affections of Taiwan compatriot toward China as a whole nation. To be specific, the “Measures of Xiamen Municipality of on Exploring a New Way for Cross-Strait Integration and Development,” can be divided to three parts.
First, the priority would be on “enhancing the Four Links between Xiamen and Taiwan, thus creating the first landing home for Taiwan compatriots and Taiwan industries.” It mentioned in the measures that efforts must be made to promote smooth economic and trade cooperation between Xiamen and Taiwan, full connection of infrastructures, mutual access of energy and resources, and common standards of industries. The measures aim at “making a Xiamen and Kinmen Joint Life Circle,” setting up a regular contact and negotiation mechanism between Xiamen and Kinmen, establishing a power supply system to Kinmen through submarine cables, completing a liquefied natural gas supply to Kinmen, and advancing the pre-construction work of Xiamen and Kinmen Bridge.
In the meantime, efforts should be also made to extend Xiamen’s public service platforms in areas like culture, tourism, sports, and exhibitions to Kinmen, to encourage Kinmen compatriots to join in various mass activities in Xiamen, to cooperate on matters related to everyday lives. However, the Mini Three Links Transportations stopped and all the exchanges between Xiamen and Kinmen were suspended since the outbreak of pandemic in 2020.
Until this year, the Mini Three Links Transportations resumed. In the 15th Cross-Strait Forum held on June 17th in Xiamen, it focused on the theme of “Expanding Civilian Exchanges and Deepening Integration and Development.” This was the first and the largest cross-strait exchange event in three years since the pandemic outbreak.
It is noteworthy that this Forum was hosted by Song Tao, Director of the Central Taiwan Affairs Office and State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, and attended by Wang Huning, member of Political Bureau of the CCP Central Committee and the chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Wang read a congratulatory letter from Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of CCP, and delivered a speech in the Forum. He announced the “Opinions on Supporting Fujian in Exploring New Ways for Cross-Strait Integration and Development and Setting Up a Model District for Cross-Strait Integration and Development” being formulated by the State Council. It clearly signified that the CCP Central cored on comrade Xi Jinping highly values the deep cross-strait integration and development, and their deeper concerns and cares to Taiwan compatriots. With no doubt, it will input new and stronger strength for the peaceful development across the strait. And the advanced revealing of this message has shown the formulation and fulfillment of this beneficial policy toward Taiwan is imminent.
Impartially speaking, there are advantages among Fujian, Kinmen and Matsu areas, like solid economic foundation, unique geological location, profound social ties, and close culture connections, thus turning to a favorable option for creating a model district of cross-strait integration and development. China might think it is a good time to deepen cross-strait integration and development as positive factors are increasing now. They may want to gather stronger power to create a model district among Fujian, Kinmen and Matsu, which could be conducive to a comprehensive experiment for deep integration and development from the present being an example of cross-strait cooperation and exchange.
The newly released “Opinions on Supporting Fujian in Exploring New Ways for Cross-Strait Integration and Development and Setting Up a Model District for Cross-Strait Integration and Development” has actively offered new proposals and incentives. It reveals that China is increasing soft power to promote integration while the chance of using military force against Taiwan is reducing. But can the new Opinions work? Can measures like New Four Links, Xiamen and Kinmen Joint Life Circle, One Country Two Systems, and Kinmen and Matsu Plan be accepted by people of Kinmen and Matsu? Can they reach the desired outcomes? Or be limited by reality restrictions? All of them depend on the following development of cross-strait relationship.
（By Wo-chiang Lee, Professor, Department of Banking and Finance, Tamkang University）