China to ‘di­vide and rule’ Tai­wan by be­friend­ing pro-Beijing towns

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

China is em­bark­ing on a di­vide­and-rule cam­paign on self-ruled Tai­wan, of­fer­ing to boost tourism to pro-Beijing towns and coun­ties while giv­ing the new pro-in­de­pen­dence govern­ment the cold shoul­der, govern­ment of­fi­cials and politi­cians say. Whether Beijing’s prom­ises ma­te­ri­al­ize re­mains to be seen, but the po­lit­i­cal rift is press­ing Tai­wan’s rul­ing Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) to come up with mea­sures of its own to counter an alarm­ing de­cline in main­land tourists.

Eight Tai­wanese lo­cal govern­ment of­fi­cials, mainly rep­re­sent­ing coun­ties con­trolled by the China-friendly op­po­si­tion Na­tion­al­ist Party, were promised greater tourism and agri­cul­tural ties when they met China’s top Tai­wan poli- cy­maker in Beijing last month. And this week, Com­mu­nist Party Chief and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is sched­uled to meet Na­tion­al­ist Party chair­woman Hung Hsiu-chu when she vis­its Beijing dur­ing an an­nual party-to-party gath­er­ing about eco­nomic and cul­tural ties. In con­trast, Beijing has with­held of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the govern­ment of DPP leader and Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen, un­til it agrees to rec­og­nize the “one-China” pol­icy. “The Chi­nese govern­ment has put po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions rel­e­vant to Tai­wan sur­ren­der­ing our sovereignty and our right to de­ter­mine our own fu­ture on the out­flow of tourists to Tai­wan and that’s what makes this a very po­lit­i­cally com­pli­cated is­sue,” said Hsiao Bi-khim, a DPP law­maker for Hualien, on Tai­wan’s east coast. Hsiao and the Hualien county chief, an ex-Na­tion­al­ist who went to Beijing last month, do not see eye to eye on tourism devel­op­ment. “We have to con­demn this di­vide-and­con­quer strat­egy and also in­di­vid­ual politi­cians who seek to play into the Chi­nese di­vide-and-con­quer strat­egy,” Hsiao said.

Only one China

China says Tai­wan is part of one China, ruled by Beijing. It re­gards the is­land as a rene­gade prov­ince, to be united by force if nec­es­sary, and ties have be­come strained since Tsai took of­fice in May. The pre­vi­ous Na­tion­al­ist ad­min­is­tra­tion agreed to recog­nise the “1992 con­sen­sus”, which states that there is only one China, with each side hav­ing its own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what that means.

The eight of­fi­cials who went to Beijing came home to a storm of crit­i­cism for be­ing lack­eys to Beijing’s oneChina pol­icy. One of them, Liu Tsen­gy­ing, chief of Matsu, a group of small islets off China’s Fu­jian prov­ince but held by Tai­wan, told Chi­nese of­fi­cials that he wanted more Chi­nese to visit Tai­wan’s small­est county. “I said I hoped Chi­nese tourists can in­crease to 40 per­cent of the to­tal,” Liu told Reuters.

China’s Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice head Zhang Zhi­jun agreed to ex­pand trade and travel specif­i­cally be­tween China’s Fu­jian prov­ince and Matsu and Kin­men. Both Tai­wan-con­trolled is­lands lie closer to China than Tai­wan. Group tourists from main­land China, which Beijing can ef­fec­tively con­trol via state-run Chi­nese travel agen­cies, fell 71 per­cent year-onyear from Oc­to­ber 1-18, Tai­wan data showed, co­in­cid­ing with China’s Na­tional Day hol­i­day, a Golden Week for travel for Chi­nese.

The sec­tor was also hit by a bus fire in Tai­wan in July that killed 24 main­land tourists. The driver, among the vic­tims, had poured petrol in­side the bus and locked its emer­gency ex­its be­fore set­ting it alight, prose­cu­tors said. The sever­ity of the de­cline in tourism led to a ma­jor protest in Septem­ber and prompted the govern­ment to pledge T$30 bil­lion in loans to the in­dus­try and work on at­tract­ing tourists from other Asian coun­tries. —Reuters

SEOUL: Lawyer Lee Kyung-Jae speaks af­ter meet­ing with Choi Soon-Sil, a close per­sonal friend of South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-Hye, at the lobby of his of­fice. — AFP

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