An unusual development is taking place between China and Taiwan, who’ve officially been giving each other the silent treatment since China’s civil war ended in the 1940s. At that time, the Communist Party won control of the country and pushed the Nationalist Party out. Nationalists relocated to Taiwan, a territory that has essentially functioned independently for the past six decades. China claims Taiwan as a de facto territory that’s yet to be reunited with the mainland.
But recently, what appears to be an attempt at integration is taking place. An experimental “common homeland” is being developed on the island of Pingtan. The island is the closest Chinese territory to Taiwan, and Beijing seems to be wooing Taiwanese citizens with the invitation to take part in government, ability to hold Taiwanese currency bank accounts, and more. But many remain unconvinced that the effort will actually bring about any change of value.
“It’s basically the Chinese creating what they see as what future integration would look like—without really much input from Taiwan,” says Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It may help some individual Taiwan companies make some money, but I don’t think it’s going to promote the political goals they seek.”
Earlier in the year, some had accused China of sabotaging diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but this theory doesn’t hold up when considering a potential reunification in the near future. Sean King, Park Strategies’ senior vice president, says he “can’t see Beijing having any strategic interest in making Taiwan President MaYing-jeou look diplomatically weak.”
Further evidence of China’s impending reunification efforts took place this Tuesday, February 11th, when Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi visited Mainland China. The talks that took place were the first official talks in over sixty years. Some are predicting that later this year, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping may sit down for official talks as well.
President Ma is widely considered pro-China, as recent economic ties between the two territories have become stronger than ever. It’s a reputation that has staggered his support—approval ratings were in the teens and twenties throughout much of 2013.