Taiwan: China floats idea of highway over the strait
The idea is part of a 30-year, Rmb2,000bn (US$240bn) plan unveiled on Thursday that aims to link all of China's major cities with 85,000km of highway including an expressway connecting Beijing and Taipei.
The proposal outlined by Zhang Chunxian, China’s communications minister, is likely to remain no more than a political pipe dream for the foreseeable future.
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, politically separate from the mainland since 1949, in everything from railway network information to books on social and economic statistics.
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 two rivals.
"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.
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, the cabinet spokesman.
Mr Chen said it was more important to work towards near-term goals such as direct charter flights between the two sides, which Taipei hopes can be arranged for February’s Lunar New Year period.
Taiwan’s lack of enthusiasm for an undersea link is understandable, given China's long-standing threat to invade the island if it tries to formalise its de facto independence.
But Mr Zhang was not the first to toy with the idea. The governor
of China's Fujian province, which neighbours Taiwan, has called a cross-Strait
tunnel "the dream of the Chinese people".