Water Dependencies: Taiwan on China

JhaishanTunnel Kinmen,Taiwan

Taiwan’s Kinmen, a cluster of tiny islands two kilometres (just over a mile) off the coast of China’s Fujian Province,,, is facing a new threat: a water shortage. Officials say that groundwater on its largest island is being depleted. Tourism from the mainland China, which has grown rapidly since 2008…, is putting pressure on its reservoirs…. Kinmen’s water authorities are ready to sign a 30-year agreement with their counterparts in Fujian to buy water from Longhu Lake in Jinjiang city.  Taiwan is to build a submarine pipeline 17km long from Fujian’s coast to Kinmen at a budgeted cost of 1.35 billion Taiwanese dollars ($44m). After 2017, when it is scheduled to be finished, China will eventually provide up to 40% of Kinmen’s water. The signing is expected soon after a meeting on Kinmen on May 23rd between ministers from China and Taiwan, the first such encounter on the islands since the time of Mao.

When Taiwan’s parliament approved the budget for the pipeline in January 2015, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which supports independence, made surprisingly few objections. Only the small, hardline Taiwan Solidarity Union voiced concerns about having such a large share of Kinmen’s water supplied by China. Pragmatists see the deal as the best way to boost Kinmen’s economy: piping water from China is much cheaper than using desalination plants. Taiwanese officials would be allowed to carry out inspections in China, such as testing water in the lake.

The Politics of Water: Peace Pipe, Economist, May 23, 2015, at 32.

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