'Little Taiwan' move to lure island workers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am


Beijing has vowed to transform Fujian's underdeveloped Pingtan Island into a 'Little Taiwan' by inviting Taiwanese to join its management team, as well as allowing the circulation of Taiwanese currency and income tax reductions for those working there.

However, a Taiwanese analyst has described the plan as wishful thinking because the island's laws prohibited Taiwanese people from working for the mainland government.

Fujian governor Su Shulin told a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday he hoped to invite Taiwanese residents to jointly develop and manage the island. Both Taiwan and Fujian would benefit from the island's development.

Pingtan is the closest mainland territory to Taiwan - only 126 kilometres away - and has been given State Council approval to attract Taiwanese and their investments.

Before 1996, Beijing staged massive military exercises on the island to prepare for the forcible 'liberation' of Taiwan.

Beijing's latest plan includes offering attractive salaries to recruit a Taiwanese deputy director of Pingtan's seven-member management committee, four Taiwanese to work as deputy directors of bureaus including economic development, and 15 to oversee the media and state enterprises.

The island also wants to recruit 1,000 Taiwanese experts within five years, with salaries and benefit packages 'higher than Taiwan's standard' and with income tax cut to the same level as in Taiwan.

It's not the first time mainland authorities have sketched bold plans to share power with people from another part of China. Shenzhen's government initially proposed that an 11-member decision-making committee to run the Qianhai New Area, a planned logistics and hi-tech hub, include two Hongkongers and that it have a Hong Kong-style anti-corruption commission and ombudsman and allow Hongkongers to adjudicate in legal proceedings. None of the ideas made it to the final draft of rules for the area.

The governor said Fujian was considering providing land on 372 square kilometre Pingtan to Taiwanese city or county authorities or institutions to develop, and Taiwanese would be given the right to manage such land and enjoy the revenue produced.

Deputy governor Chen Hua said Taiwanese television channels would be able to broadcast on the island once approved, and newspapers and books published in Taiwan might be allowed to circulate.

But Taiwanese analysts are not as optimistic as mainland officials.

Hsieh Ming-hwei, deputy secretary of the Taipei-based Taiwan Competitiveness Forum, said Taiwan had strict laws prohibiting its people from working for the mainland government.

Joint development of Pingtan was wishful thinking by the mainland authorities, he said.