An Underwater Tunnel from China to Taiwan?

The Financial Times reports that China is making a political statement by reviving this apparently old proposal:

China Floats Idea of Highway to Taiwan

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?

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Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. RE Gardner says:

    Higher Priorities? Depends on how you are thinking, and their reality is not the same as yours (or mine). China defeats the entire concept of the global paradox, because China is its’ own paradox.

    Regardless, they seem pathologically obsesssed with Taiwan, which under any other standard is an independent country.

  2. DC Loser says:


    To answer your question “Doesn’t China have higher priorities?”

    To the Chinese government, the answer is an emphatic NO. The Taiwan issue is the only claim of legitimacy the Communist Party has with the population, and they will use nationalism to get its support, even to the point of going to war.

  3. Actually, when I was mentioning higher priorities, I was thinking about the underwater tunnel, not Taiwanese independence. One would think that there’d be more attention paid to establishing direct charter flights from the mainland to Taipei, yet Chinese officials are talking about elaborate transportation schemes.

    As to the political issue of Taiwan, I agree that it’s an urgent matter for the Communist Party.