Taiwan has six special municipalities. The mayor of Hsinchu City wants a seventh. In an interview earlier this month, Mayor Lin Chih-chien called for merging Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County, to form a larger administrative area with pooled financial resources. The mayor made his case again on Tuesday, during a visit of Taiwan’s president to his city.

President Tsai Ing-wen made an inspection tour on Tuesday, of the new preschool campus of Hsinchu Waldorf Experimental School. The city’s mayor led the tour, briefing Tsai on the school’s philosophy and his education policies. The campus spans two administrative regions: Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County. Once again, Hsinchu City Mayor Lin Chih-chien advocated for merging the two regions.

Lin Chih-chien

Hsinchu mayor

Many city and county residents are very supportive of a merger. I also hope that through merging the city and the county, after upgrading to a special municipality, we can plan out education, transport, environmental, and urban development policies in a more comprehensive and efficient manner. We’re hoping for a “unification of powers,” an expansion of our financial resources.

Tsai Ing-wen

President

This is indeed a major issue pertaining to national development planning. Besides considering public opinion, we’ll need to consider the law and other factors. All of it must be carefully and rigorously discussed.

Tsai said that when considering a merger, both public opinion and the law must be taken into account. At present, the populations of Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County have not reached the legal requirement for a merger. In addition, the KMT has objected to the proposal, saying that if the two regions were merged, it would allow Lin, a two-term mayor, to seek another two terms.

Chen Yu-jen

KMT lawmaker

If you want to openly claim that this for the public good, that yes, this is for Hsinchu City, this is for Hsinchu County, this is for the good of greater Hsinchu, and that’s why we want a merger…if you want to say that, then you should also come out and say you will not run for another term as mayor of the merged region.

Lin Chih-chien

Hsinchu mayor

This merger plan is tailor-made for Hsinchu Science Park. If Hsinchu is upgraded to a special municipality, anybody with the will and the desire to serve would be eligible to participate in the election.

Pushing back at Hsinchu’s mayor, the KMT said that any talk of a merger was a product of political calculations. One KMT lawmaker argued that if there had to be a seventh special municipality, it should be one comprising Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, and Miaoli.

Lin Szu-ming

KMT lawmaker

The industrial chain of Hsinchu Science Park spans Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, and Miaoli County. These three regions make up a high-tech industrial chain. So if we merged Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, and Miaoli County, we could build a so-called “Northern Taiwan technology corridor.”

To merge or not to merge, and should Miaoli also be merged? Those are the questions set to shape the elections in the runup to 2022.