The government is expanding long-standing plans to develop the east coast….

The project, formally known as the “Eastern Taiwan Sustainable Development Plan,” is expected to be in the pipeline beginning today when the CEPD convenes its first meeting on the project.

Under the plan, the government will invest some NT$50 billion over nine years to transform the eastern corridor - from Yilan County’s Nanao and Tatung rural townships to Hualien and Taitung counties - into an international-standard tourism area, conserving eastern Taiwan’s natural beauty while building an environment with a leading quality of life, CEPD officials said.

Specifically, the project will feature developing the tourism industry in the corridor’s rural townships; developing an industrial processing zone for deep-sea products; promoting an “immigration” program to build new tribal villages in the area; developing a cottage industry-based economy; bolstering railway and multiple transportation systems; and reviewing the existing policy of transporting sand and gravel from east to west Taiwan, according to CEPD officials.

The project - initiated by former Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) in August 2005 and put on the drawing board in February this year with Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as the new premier - is expected to be carried out via 18 sub-plans and 45 tasks, planned and implemented concertedly by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Council of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Administration.

I discussed the policy of shifting gravel operations away from the west over to the east coast a while back. Developing the east coast has strong political implications — in addition to changing the pace of lifestyles, it will create new financial links between the DPP and local factions in an area that has long been a KMT stronghold. Despite the article’s claim that the project was initiated by Premier Frank Hsieh, plans to develop the east coast for industry and tourism have been in the works for many years. I can’t wait to read what Wild at Heart has to say about this.