31st May 2023 – (Hong Kong) Taiwan’s Vice Premier Cheng Wen-tsan has rejected the proposal of Taiwanese presidential candidate Ko Wen-je to build a bridge connecting the outlying island of Kinmen to the Chinese city of Xiamen, stating that it is more important to invest in strengthening defence and national security. Cheng expressed that Beijing is using military threats, economic measures, and diplomatic encirclement against Taiwan, making it necessary to focus on national security.
Ko, the founder and chair of the Taiwan People’s Party, had suggested the construction of a bridge linking Kinmen to Xiamen during his visit to Kinmen. He also proposed that Kinmen become an “experimental zone” for peace between Taiwan and China. However, Cheng stated that peace in the Taiwan Strait benefits the world, and that Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu should be regarded as one community sharing the same fate.
The attitude of presidential candidates towards China is expected to play a significant role in the upcoming election on 13th January, 2024. Vice President Lai Ching-te, who leads the Democratic Progressive Party, and New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang, are also expected to run for the presidency.
Ko’s proposal for a bridge between Kinmen and Xiamen had previously been suggested by China, but faced opposition from Taiwan’s government due to national security concerns. While direct contact between Taiwan and China is favoured by Vice Premier Cheng, he emphasised the importance of prioritising national security in the face of Beijing’s increasing pressure on Taiwan.
Ko’s proposal for a Kinmen-Xiamen bridge is viewed by some as a potential way to improve economic ties between Taiwan and China. However, it remains a sensitive issue due to the long-standing political tensions between the two sides. Taiwan’s government has been cautious about any proposal that could be perceived as a concession to China, particularly as the country continues to increase its military presence near Taiwan’s borders.