Fujian Province wants to create economic area with Taiwan

7 August 2006

Fuzhou, China, 07 Aug – An economic area encompassing both sides of the Tawain Strait seems a long way off, though Fujian province in southeast China is doing all it can to make it a reality, the China Daily reported recently.

The government of this province located only 120 kilometers from Taiwan aims to better integrate the two economies by establishing the West Straits Economic Area.

“The establishment of a prosperous economic area will not only benefit the economic development of Fujian but also the economic integration of both sides of the strait,” said Wang Sanyun, deputy secretary of the Fujian Province Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

A wealthier and more open Fujian province will be a more attractive destination for Taiwan investors, he added.

The provincial government proposed this strategy in 2004 with a view to enhancing its relations with Taiwan. The project was approved by the central government last year and included in China’s 11th five-year plan (2006-2010).

People from Taiwan and Fujian share the same dialect, culture and customs, and above all common ancestry, Wang said.

More than 80 percent of Taiwan’s 23 million inhabitants have roots in Fujian dating to the large scale migrations during the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911).

The deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Fujian provincial government, Chen Ling, said the province had played a “unique and noteworthy” role in strengthening cross-strait cooperation, adding that strong ties with Taiwan will continue to drive the province’s economic growth.

The president of the Fujian Academy of Social Sciences, Yan Zheng, said that setting up a West Straits Economic Area would help better integrate not only the complementary economies of Fujian and Taiwan but also the economic fabric of China.

The Yangtze and Pearl River deltas have become major regional markets and economic powers, while Fujian, with a population of 35 million people, remains a weak point in the Chinese coastal economies.

“Fujian and Taiwan will one day form an economic area as powerful as the other two mentioned regions,” Yan said, adding that the academy where he worked had prepared a report for the provincial government on how to improve economic relations between Taiwan and Fujian.

Yan Zheng said that during his recent visit to Taiwan the island’s business community had expressed a great deal of interest in the Economic Zone.

Taiwanese investors asked many questions about how the plan to set up the Economic Zone would impact their investments in Fujian, he added. (macauhub)