Although relations between Taiwan and China have been stable and improving for several years, the dynamics are complicated and can change quickly. Beijing is adamant about their position on casinos in Taiwan, having stated that they will cut off “three links” to any of the outlying Taiwanese islands, such as Kinmen that choose to open a casino. The three links are direct transit, trade links, and shipping.
Going beyond that, the state-run Mainland Xinhua news agency reports that Beijing simply won’t let Chinese citizens come to gamble as cross-Strait agreements disallow their citizens from gambling there.
“We would rather not see Kinmen tourism, which has tremendous potential, impacted by the gambling industry,” Xinhua cited State Council Taiwan Affairs Officer, Ms. Fan Liqing as saying.
In 2009 Taiwan approved legislation allowing its three outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu to make their own decisions by referendum vote if they wanted to develop casinos. Penhu said “no”, but in 2012 Matsu island voted to allow casino development. Kinmen is the closest island to a Chinese population center, very near the coastal city of Xiamen.
The current discussion seems to have come out of a business visit to Kinmen last weekend by Zhang Zhijun, the director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. According to reports the meetings were on other subjects but in one he said that Taiwan should take the right path and not start any gaming business.
However, in relation to the remarks about severing “three links” attributed to Zhang Zhijun, Andrew Hsia, head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said he hadn’t heard of such a thing and if it was said it was “inappropriate.” according to a report in China Times.
Taiwan was not put off by the initial statements and seemed to be going forward with legislation. Wang Jinpyng, parliamentary head in Taiwan is quoted this week as saying, “Laws were already approved for setting up the gaming business in the outlying islands.”
“And, of course, we’ll also have to finish the laws of the establishment and management” He went on to say, “After we complete the legislation, whether or not the investors want to build casinos is their decision.”