China Still Not Getting It

Michael Turton , November 22, 2016 11:34am

A delegation from China is arriving Monday and will visit only to Blue counties and ignored Green ones…. (Taiwan News)

The delegation, authorized by the Chinese government, came after the chiefs of the eight “blue” Taiwanese counties and cities visited China in September. According to media reports, the delegation plans to spend eight days and seven nights to complete the tour, viewing agricultural products and specialties of these selected areas and paving the way for a planned promotional tour organized by the KMT-ruled counties and cities to promote their agriculture as well as tourism in China, slated to take place at the end of December.

This is simply a variant of the tourism strategy: to use politically-motivated subsidies to create pockets of support for China and the KMT. The problems ought to be obvious. Even the recipients of the largesse know it is dependent on China’s political needs and has nothing to do with economic and social conditions. Moreover, most Blue-held areas are underdeveloped and have small populations, with the exception of New Taipei City.

A smart policy would shower the heavily populated Green areas with benefits. But this strategy bypasses the population at large, and will have the same results as the group tourism strategy: increasing resentment without forming permanent links. Such policies will be perceived as insults.

This looks like a move aimed at domestic audiences in China, who want to see that their government is doing something. It shows how unimaginative China’s Taiwan policies are, how China simply lacks a robust and coherent Taiwan policy, as well as a sophisticated understanding of Taiwan.

It may also augur ill for the future. The purpose of such policies, stupid though they appear to be, may well be so that China’s leaders can at some point say to their people: “Well, we did all we could… so now we must fight…”
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Michael Turton

A long time expat in Taiwan.