And Finally

Tunnel vision

New song predicts Beijing-to-Taipei bullet train


Planning to go beyond Pingtan?

The lyrics are simple and the melody sounds synthetic. But the subject is one of the biggest geopolitical flashpoints of our time.

‘Going to Taiwan in 2035’ is a children’s song from mainland Chinese artist Meng Xudong about taking a bullet train from Beijing to Taipei – something that would only be possible if Taiwan was reunified with the Chinese mainland.

Meng told the Beijing Youth Daily that his song had an unlikely source of inspiration: the Comprehensive Transport Plan for 2021-35, which shows Taipei as destination on China’s high-speed rail network. At the time of the plan’s release in March, excited netizens took it as an indication that the mainland of China would be reunified with the island of Taiwan by 2035.

Beijing has previously included plans for roads and bridges that connect the province of Fujian to Taiwan in its transport plans, and mainland engineers have talked for years about building a tunnel beneath the 150 kilometre-wide Taiwan Strait. But Chinese rhetoric on reunification with Taiwan has increased in recent years and the Chinese military has been flying regular missions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), causing concern in Taipei and Washington.

The lyrics of the new song – performed by Meng and a little girl – speak of boarding a bullet train (dongche) for a journey to visit the Taiwanese landmarks of Penghu Bay and Alishan National Park.

The second part of the song details how, in 2035, people from Taipei will be able to travel by train to Beijing to see the sun rise over Tiananmen Square and marvel at the “Chinese Dream”.

Meng says he chose to make it a song for kids because the six year-olds of today will be 20 in 2035.

“I wanted to let children know from an early age that Taiwan is an inseparable part of the motherland,” the Beijing Youth Daily quoted him as saying.

Several schools in China are already teaching the song to their pupils and have posted videos of their performances on Sina Weibo.

If the rail connection is ever completed the high-speed journey from Beijing to Taipei should take about 11 hours. Most of the line already exists in mainland China, with high-speed track extending as far as Pingtan Island, off the coast of Fujian – the closest part of the mainland to Taiwan.

The railway first reached the island last December, following the construction of a 16-kilometre rail and road bridge – the longest of its type in the world.

At the time China Railways said that the “dream” of connecting all the way through to Taiwan “was finally drawing closer” and that only the construction of the “final part” of the project (a tunnel under the Taiwan Strait) was still to be completed.

Around the same time the Russian ambassador to China picked up on the theme, telling Hong-Kong based Phoenix TV that he would like to travel by train to “Taiwan Province” in the future too.

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