China dangles carrot to Taiwanese in battle for hearts and minds

Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since Chiang Kai-shek's forces fled Mao Zedong's communists in 1949 during the Chinese civil war.
Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since Chiang Kai-shek's forces fled Mao Zedong's communists in 1949 during the Chinese civil war.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) - China unveiled a wide-ranging set of incentives to Taiwanese companies and individuals designed to make good on President Xi Jinping's pledge to unify Beijing with the democratically-ruled island within a generation.

Just months before Taiwan's January presidential election, China on Monday (Nov 4) announced 26 new incentives to Taiwanese companies and individuals across fields including telecommunications, education and sport.

They include ensuring a level playing field for Taiwanese companies competing against Chinese counterparts in areas such as 5G, air transportation and theme parks, and open up opportunities for students and athletes.

The announcement follows a January speech by President Xi in which he urged any Taiwanese who support the notion that Taiwan is part of China to start working towards the goal of unification. He warned that the impasse between the two sides could not be passed on from generation to generation and refused to renounce the use of military force against the island.

Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since Chiang Kai-shek's forces fled Mao Zedong's communists in 1949 during the Chinese civil war.

While Taiwan has existed in ill-defined political limbo since then, almost 90 per cent of the public oppose China's plan for unification.

"These Chinese measures are aimed at promoting one country, two systems with the aim of annexing Taiwan," Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday. "There is a consensus in Taiwan rejecting one country, two systems. China's dishonest offer of help for Taiwan will not succeed."

Beijing's offer is the latest step in Mr Xi's strategy of bypassing official contact with the Taiwanese government in favour of direct incentives aimed at entwining private organisations and the public in China's huge domestic market and system of state subsidies.

 

China's government has frozen all official communications with Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen came into power in 2016 and refused to endorse the premise that Taiwan is part of China.