China's 26 Measures: 'Wan Wan' Is Already at Home

China's 26 Measures: 'Wan Wan' Is Already at Home
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images

What you need to know

China's new 26 measures and its call for "Wan Wan" to come home are just trivial attempts to undermine Taiwan's 2020 elections, again.

Last week, China's state-run broadcaster CCTV News anchor Hai Xia (海霞) called for “Wan Wan (灣灣)” to come home after Beijing announced yet another “26 measures,” in an attempt to attract Taiwanese talents and businesses.

The latest measures include offering Taiwan-funded enterprises access to research and development in 5G technology and granting Taiwanese athletes training in Beijing for the 2020 Olympic Games among other initiatives.

In a prerecorded video, Hai announced the new incentives and said, "We show our sincerity to our Taiwanese compatriots because we are all Chinese. Taiwan's destiny is connected with its motherland. Wan Wan come home!"

She added, "Some people are not being pragmatic about such practical measures. They also say strange things and even spread rumors and slander. If they don't have a Chinese heart, how can they understand our sincerity?"

Hai's words were then rapidly shared on Weibo, and Chinese netizens are now referring to Taiwan as “Wan Wan,” which is a childish and condescending description in Mandarin. But sarcastic memes and responses went viral all over the Taiwanese social media as well.

Taiwanese legislators Ho Chih-wei (何志偉) and Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), for example, both posted on their Facebook saying, ''We are already at home."

Beijing claimed the 26 measures announced by China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) aim to “benefit Taiwan” by providing some equal treatment with the Chinese populace for Taiwanese companies and citizens.

In response to the new measures, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) tweeted on the same day, bashing Beijing’s new 26 measures with an image that said “impossible.”

"China’s attempts to influence our elections & push us to accept 'one country, two systems' will never succeed," she wrote.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) also released a sarcastic tweet, intentionally written in Simplified Chinese used in China, and said, “The TAO has launched 26 measures for Taiwan, last year there were 31 measures. It looks like a lot of measures.”

"But we have no use for 'one country, two systems.' For real, no need to be so kind. It would be nice to give your own people a bit more freedom ㄛ!" he added.

Non-Taiwanese netizens would probably be confused by what the last word "ㄛ" is. It is a Zhuyin symbol used only in Taiwan, sometimes used to finish a sentence with a snarky ending.

While Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progress Party rejected China’s offer of incentives to Taiwanese nationals, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) welcomed the 26 measures in a statement saying that it is happy to see Beijing provide “development opportunities” and “equal treatment” for Taiwanese citizens.

However, Beijing's new 26 measures might be sketchy.

Earlier this year, Beijing announced that it would ban individual tourists from 47 Chinese cities to travel to Taiwan, citing only the current state of cross-strait relations without further explanation.

As the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan increased significantly under KMT President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)’s administration since 2011, China's recent tourism ban was an attempt to undermine President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration and the upcoming election in January 2020.

RELATED: China's Tourism Ban Shows Why Closer Economic Ties Won't Work

To further isolate Taiwan, Beijing also took another two of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, Solomon Islands and Kiribati, in September. Taiwan now has formal diplomatic relations with only 15 countries.

These moves apparently demonstrated different motivations from what China claimed the 26 measures are for.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement that these so-called “favoring Taiwan efforts” are contradicted by Beijing’s continuing suppression by grabbing its diplomatic allies, blocking its international space, and conducting military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

National Chengchi University assistant professor Huang Jaw-Nian (黃兆年) also told BBC last week that China is now using incentives in exchange for Taiwan's recognition and intaking Taiwanese talents. He thinks that instead of "benefiting Taiwan," the 26 measures are actually "benefiting China."

Does Taiwan really need these benefits from China?

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a recent report that described the U.S. tariffs on China as "economically hurting both countries." But Taiwan was singled out as the top beneficiary of the U.S.-China trade war, with an increase of US$4.2 billion (NT$127.8 billion) in exports to the United States in the first half of 2019.

"Under Tsai's governance, the Taiwan Stock Exchange has been over 500 points for more than 500 days and the country's economic growth has roared back to the top of Asia's four dragons," announced Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on November 9, on the 300th day since he became the premier.

Are the 26 measures offered by China really what Taiwan needs right now? Or should Taiwan stay clear of the Communist Party's dictatorship and develop closer relationships with other like-minded partners?

Under the stable investment environment created by Tsai's administration, Taiwan's economic development and prospects continue to grow without China’s good grace. After the 2020 elections in January, we can see if Taiwan can keep thriving independently or “go home” as the docile “Wan Wan.”

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TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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