China plays good cop

China unveiled on Tuesday (12 September) a new plan to deepen ties between its coastal province of Fujian and nearby Taiwan.

The 21-piece plan is designed to “promote the process of [Taiwan’s] peaceful reunification with the motherland,” and includes provisions for:

  • 🎓 Taiwanese students and workers to live, work, and receive social benefits in Fujian without applying for temporary residence
  • 🔀 Social and cultural exchanges between citizens, and
  • 🚧 Joint infrastructure projects between the Chinese city of Xiamen and Taiwan’s Kinmen islands (just ~10km away).

Meanwhile, Taiwanese authorities have reported dozens of China’s warships and fighter jets circling Taiwan this week.

Intrigue’s take: If this all seems like mixed messaging, that’s precisely the point. It’s designed to show the Taiwanese people which options they have: integration by peace, or integration by force.

But Taiwanese citizens are increasingly saying they have a third option in mind: 49% say they want independence (with just 12% seeking unification).

Also worth noting:

  • Polls show Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te of the independence-leaning incumbent party leading ahead of January’s election.
  • Some Kinmen residents have proposed a bridge to the mainland as part of a broader effort to turn the islands into a demilitarised zone.