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On the third day of military exercises around Taiwan, the warplanes of the People’s Liberation Army once again crossed the mid-line between China and Taiwan. The warships conducted exercises near the coast of the democratically governed island. Beijing has also sent drones to several Taiwanese islands off the coast of China.
Tourists gather at Peace Pier in the Chinese port city of Xiamen. The Golden Eagle Six, a tourist boat, is about to set sail. It’s one of the few options for Chinese tourists these days to see more of Taiwan. Since the beginning of the epidemic, ferries to nearby Taiwanese islands such as Kinmen have been cancelled.
“I’ve never been there before,” said one of the waiters, laughing. “But that will change, because we will meet again with Taiwan soon.” When asked what he thinks of the rising tensions, his wife pulls the man away. Once you get on the boat, people get more talkative. “Taiwan will undoubtedly return to China,” says another tourist, observing the islands looming over the fence. “Our army is getting stronger, right?”
Several attacks on Kinmen were carried out in the 1950s. In the fall of 1954 the islands were bombed by the men of the Chinese strongman Mao Zedong: the first Taiwan crisis was real. In 1958, the Second Taiwan Crisis was followed by another bombing. “I still remember it,” said an elderly tourist wearing Mao’s pin.
“No one wants to fight, we hope for a peaceful reunion,” he says. “But if the United States intervenes, we will definitely go to war.” Younger passengers on the boat feel the same way. “We hope for peaceful reunification,” said Xiong, 21, who now lives in the country. But if Taiwan continues to seek independence, there will certainly be a fight.”
There are no bombs flying in the air around Kinmen right now. But here, too, China is trying to intimidate Taiwan. Not to invade Kinmen directly. There is little to be gained from land grabs, like Putin with Crimea, experts say: China wants the full booty. The People’s Liberation Army reported on social media platform Weibo that the training sessions are aimed at testing “land and sea attacks”.
“Taiwan wants to become part of China again”
“If it was so dangerous here, we wouldn’t be sailing, right?” Says a woman with her husband and son on vacation from Jiangxi. “I don’t think there is any reason to be so nervous,” her husband said when asked about the dangers of the military exercises. The way the Taiwanese look at it doesn’t seem to bother the Chinese on the boat. “They’d rather belong to China again,” replied the man with Mao’s pin.
Opinion polls from Chengqi University in Taiwan show a different picture. 85 percent of Taiwanese do not want anything to do with communist China. They prefer to maintain the status quo. Taiwan is theoretically independent under the flag of the Republic of China, although few countries recognize this.
Back on the beach, night falls over Xiamen, the capital of Fujian. A province closely related to Taiwan. Hokkien, with the official Mandarin language in Taiwan, was brought by immigrants from Fujian who migrated to the island long ago. Standard Chinese now prevails on Taiwanese snack street, although there are few people to talk to in the rundown neighborhood. Many restaurants and snack bars are closed.
Gu Huiyuan Restaurant, which has been around for twenty years, is still open. But there is no reason to express their joy. “It was full here every day, and everyone could make money,” she says. Compared to the photos she shows on her phone, there is little left of Taiwanese Snack Street. The big figures at the street gate also disappeared. “They fell out a year or two ago and have never been replaced,” says a neighbor.
Corona closures have affected here and Taiwan’s snack street will not recover. Gu believes it is a symbol of mysterious relationships, which has now changed course by himself. “In Ma Ying-jeou’s time, we still sold Taiwanese snacks here,” she says, referring to the Taiwan president who was sailing a more friendly path toward China. Jo now mainly serves dishes from Uyghur cuisine. “It’s time for a snack. Change,” she laughs.
What is the subject of the conflict over Taiwan? short explanation:
Will Taiwan be the scene of the next great war?
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