Beijing says it can ease power and water shortages on Taiwans’s Quemoy, Matsu islands

  • Different social systems should not be ‘a barrier to unification or an excuse for separation’, according to mainland’s cross-strait affairs office
  • After Quemoy began importing water from Fujian in August, preliminary research has been done to supply water to Matsu chain and electricity to both

News

Beijing says it can ease power and water shortages on Taiwan’s islands

27 Feb 2019

Taiwan-controlled Quemoy Island – which is just 2km from Xiamen – began importing water from the mainland in August. Photo: Weibo

Beijing says it is prepared to supply electricity and water to islands controlled by Taipei in the Taiwan Strait despite escalating tensions between the two sides.

An Fengshan, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, also said their different social systems should not be “an excuse” to separate the country, and any deal between the mainland and Taipei should be struck in the interests of a “peaceful unification” agenda.

Speaking at a monthly press briefing on Wednesday, An said the mainland could supply power and water to meet the needs of residents on Quemoy, also known as Kinmen, and the Matsu island group. Controlled by Taipei, the islands are located off the mainland’s southeastern Fujian coast – Quemoy is just 2km from Xiamen – and have been on the front line of cross-strait tensions since 1949.

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“The people of the Quemoy and Matsu islands have long hoped that the mainland could help to resolve the difficulties they face with power and water shortages, and they have made numerous appeals for gas and bridge connections [with the mainland],” An said.

“Our attitude is very clear – that in regards to these demands, the mainland will make every effort to provide opportunities and conditions to help them achieve bigger and better development.”

An said Fujian province authorities had completed preliminary research and planning to supply electricity to the Quemoy and Matsu islands, as well as water to the Matsu chain. Plans to supply gas and build bridges were expected in the future, he said, without elaborating.

Water is released into the Tianbu Reservoir on Quemoy island in August when the mainland supply began. Photo: EPA-EFE
Water is released into the Tianbu Reservoir on Quemoy island in August when the mainland supply began. Photo: EPA-EFE

Quemoy began importing water from Fujian to ease its water shortage in August, three years after it signed a 30-year agreement with the mainland province to supply water via an undersea pipeline.

But Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles cross-strait ties, asked the Quemoy county government to downplay a ceremony marking the start of the supply
because of moves by Beijing to suppress Taipei.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province subject to eventual reunification, by force if necessary. Relations across the strait soured after Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, became president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principles.

Since then, mainland China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan, suspending official communications with the Tsai government, poaching its diplomatic allies and staging war games near the self-ruled island, which is edging closer to Washington.

In an interview with CNN last week, Tsai said she would seek re-election next year and there would be no peace deal with the mainland unless Beijing ruled out using force against Taiwan.

On Wednesday, An said the different social systems across the strait should not be a barrier to unification, which President Xi Jinping sees as part of his Chinese dream of national rejuvenation but has been rejected by Tsai.

“Peaceful unification and ‘one country, two systems’ are the basic policies for us to resolve the Taiwan issues, and the best way to realise the motherland’s unification,” An said.

He was referring to a speech by Xi in January calling for Beijing and Taipei to start talks on “one country, two systems” in Taiwan – first proposed by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s – as the path to bring the island back into the China fold.

“The differences in the systems should not be a barrier to unification or an excuse for separation,” An said.

China protests against US ‘provocation’ after two American warships pass through Taiwan Straits.
Asked about Beijing-friendly Kuomintang chairman Wu Den-yih’s recent remarks that Taipei would sign a peace deal with the mainland if his party won the election in 2020, An said the two sides could explore a deal “as long as it benefits and safeguards the peace of the Taiwan Strait, increases the peaceful development of relations and pushes the peaceful unification process of the motherland”.

Source: SCMP

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