TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Beijing is planning to build an airport on land reclaimed from the sea near Pingtan Island, the closest part of China to the main island of Taiwan.
Plans for the airport, which is set to be built off the east coast of Pingtan, between Dasha and Xiaosha islets, came to light through documents released by the authorities in China’s Fujian Province, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Pingtan has since 2013 been part of a pilot free-trade zone meant to help deepen economic ties with Taiwan, and Beijing has spent hundreds of billions of RMB on infrastructure in and around Pingtan related to economic integration. While the airport has been announced in relation to such plans, the extent to which it will be used for military purposes has not been made public.
The airport is set to cost roughly RMB$3 billion (US$463 million) and will serve as a “major aviation and logistics hub with access to Taiwan,” per SCMP. It comes as part of a large infrastructure package designed by Beijing to economically assimilate its smaller neighbor, with at least 10 new civilian airports, dozens of seaports, and bridges from Fujian Province to Taiwan’s Matsu and Quemoy islands.
The plans have the full-throated support of Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平), who in March told Fujian officials to “be bold in exploring new paths for integrated cross-strait development,” according to the report. Over the years, these “new paths” have been equal parts absurd and sinister, such as in 2016, when China proposed building a bridge all the way to Taiwan’s main island through Pingtan.
The intended recipient of these boondoggles, Taiwan, has made clear it rejects any attempts to aggressively entwine it into the infrastructure of a hostile foreign power.