Taiwan and Hong Kong in favour of economic mega-region
In a visit to Hong Kong Taichung Mayor Jason Hu Chihchiang (pictured) launched the idea of greater integration of the four areas after a long meeting with Stephen Lam Sui-lung, Taiwan’s Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs. Such an entity would ease access for tourist and business people.
Relations between Taiwan and Hong Kong have been intense, but the former British crown colony lost some of its lustre after direct air, maritime and postal ties, which previously relied on Hong Kong, were established with the mainland.
Mr Lam said the mega-region idea was “entirely possible,” adding that he hoped that the two territories might increase their economic ties, something already happening with Guangdong and Fujian.
After decades of cold peace Beijing and Taipei have been warming to each other. Talks between the two sides were renewed recently and both want closer ties.
As part of this process a third cross-strait summit is being prepared, said Lai Shin-yuan, chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, the Taiwan’s top China policy planning body. Improved air travel and financial services will be on the table. A free trade pact with the mainland is not in the cards for Taiwan.
Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province and does not recognise its independence.
Cooperation between the two remains difficult. Evidence of this came today when Li Weiyi, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, denied that officials from China and Taiwan would meet in August at Transnational Security Co-operation forum organised by the US Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, an institute under the US Defence Department, in Hawaii.
He said that Beijing is against third party involvement in military talks with Taiwan.
He added however that direct talks on military matters between scholars or retired military officers from the two sides was a possibility. In Taiwan this idea was received favourably.