A Chinese official has warned Taiwan to halt its casino plans or face revocation of trade and transportation privileges with mainland China.
Taiwan has been making glacially slow progress toward launching its domestic casino industry after lifting its casino ban in 2009. Legislation that would provide the framework for the development of a number of integrated resorts on Taiwan’s outlying islands has yet to pass and won’t ever pass if Beijing gets its way.
On Sunday, Zhang Zhijun, director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, warned businessmen in the Kinmen islands that the introduction of casinos would cause China to revoke its ‘Three Small Links’ policy. This policy, which was enacted in 2008, allows direct trade, postal and transportation channels between China and Taiwan, which Beijing officially regards at its ‘renegade’ province, not a different country.
This isn’t the first time that China has made such a threat. In 2013, shortly after residents of Taiwan’s Matsu islands approved a referendum on the desirability of a local integrated resort, officials in China’s neighboring Fujian province announced that it would prevent its citizens from traveling to Matsu for the purpose of gambling. Such a ban would be akin to China banning residents of Guangdong province from visiting Macau and could spell doom for a Taiwan casino’s prospects.
Some Taiwanese officials have expressed outrage at China’s meddling ways and vowed that their casino legislation plans will go forward, regardless of any external threats. Wang Jinpyng, president of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, told local media that politicians would get on with their work, leaving it up to casino investors whether or not they choose to take the risk of investing in a project in the Matsu or Kinmen island regions.