TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China said it is ready to build a high-speed rail link to Taiwan from the island adjacent to Fujian province, a plan rejected by Taiwan as “wishful thinking”.
Senior Chinese development official Cong Liang (叢亮) said at a press conference on Thursday (Sept. 14) that China’s state planning council has outlined plans for “peaceful integration” with Taiwan, including plans for cross-strait energy and transport links. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) responded with an outright rejection of the plan, labeling it a politicized cash grab.
MAC called the plan “a cover to win over and entice our people and companies to go to the mainland and integrate into its systems, regulations, and norms, to accept the Communist Party's leadership," per Reuters.
Cong said China’s Fujian already has the engineering and technical capabilities to create a link so both sides could “easily cross the Taiwan Strait by high-speed rail as soon as possible,” per CNA. The plan will likely seek to connect China Jinmen and or Matsu, two territories of Taiwan within 20 kilometers or less of China’s coast.
On Matsu, local legislative premier and KMT member Chang Yung-chiang (張永江) told Taiwan News that he was optimistic about the idea. Chang said more transport links would make life better for the people of Matsu in business and everyday life.
When asked about MAC's response, he said that their thinking did not reflect his. “The thinking here is different,” Chang said.
Matsu’s elected representatives are either members of the KMT or independents, though the DPP maintains an office there which is headed by Lii Wen (李問). Lii told Taiwan News that he thinks the likelihood of such a link being built is “very, very low.”
Lii said that in the past Matsu leaders and legislators had attended a meeting in China in which authorities proposed a bridge between the nearby city of Fuzhou and Matsu, but the costs quoted were unrealistically high. He said that before considering whether a rail link would be good for Matsu, this issue, and many others, needed to be solved.
Taiwan News spoke with Kinmen legislator for the Kuomintang (KMT) Ou-yang I-hsiung (歐陽儀雄) who said he was unaware of the plan and would not comment. Kinmen’s only Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator was also contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of publishing.