An Underwater Tunnel from China to Taiwan?
The Financial Times reports that China is making a political statement by reviving this apparently old proposal:
Mainland China has included Taiwan in its plans for highway construction, with Zhang Chunxian, communications minister, on Thursday even raising the possibility of building the world’s longest undersea tunnel to link the highway networks of the Cold War rivals.
Mr Zhang’s thoughts of a tunnel under the Taiwan Strait are likely to remain no more than a political pipe dream for the foreseeable future, since Beijing and Taipei are bitter rivals that have not been on speaking terms for years.
But calls for cross-Strait road routes illustrate the determination with which China pushes its claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, which has been politically separate from the mainland since 1949.
Chinese officials fiercely object to any map that does not show Taiwan as part of the mainland’s People’s Republic state and routinely include the island in everything from railway network information to books on social and economic statistics.
An expressway connecting Beijing and Taipei is part of a 30-year Rmb2,00bn plan unveiled on Thursday by Mr Zhang that he said would link all China’s major cities by 85,000km of highway.
Challenged on how China might go about establishing such a route across the Taiwan Strait, Mr Zhang gave few details and admitted any connection would depend on the resumption of direct transport links between the rival sides.
“The (highway) networks might be connected by some form of shipping method,” the minister said, mentioning a tunnel or “some other project” as possible future options.
I had one immediate reaction upon seeing this report. The following paragraphs capture it:
Taiwan’s government called the proposal political propaganda. “We hope that China can take a pragmatic attitude to cross-Strait relations,” said Chen Chi-mai, cabinet spokesman.
Mr Chen said it was more important to work toward near-term goals such as a direct charter flights between the two sides, that Taipei hopes can be arranged over the Lunar New Year in February and which would allow mainland airlines to fly to Taiwan for the first time.
In other words: Doesn’t China have higher priorities?