China woos with more incentives

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 - Page 3

China on Sunday announced further measures aimed at promoting exchanges with Taiwan, adding that another 25 are in the pipeline.

Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) made the announcement at a cross-strait forum in Xiamen, saying that he was authorized to unveil some of the measures that the Chinese government is taking to increase exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan.

He did not say when the other measures would be made public.

The new measures seem to be China’s latest effort to woo Taiwanese hearts and minds after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) took power in March.

In response, the Mainland Affairs Council said that it would study the measures before making an official comment.

The Tourism Bureau, however, welcomed a measure that will make it easier for Chinese nationals to apply for travel documents to come to Taiwan, and another that will allow residents of Xiamen to double the amount of time they are allowed to spend on the outlying island of Kinmen to two days at a time.

Speaking at the forum, Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲), chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, also made an overture to pro-independence Taiwanese.

“Even those who once supported and promoted Taiwan independence, or followed those who do, so long as they are willing to help improve and develop cross-strait relations, will be welcome to visit the mainland and to join us in promoting exchanges and cooperation between the two sides of the Strait,” he told the delegates, who included Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正).

According to the New China News Agency, the measures announced by Zhang are:

‧ Facilitating travel and making it more convenient, for instance, by increasing from nine to 20 the number of provinces and cities where Taiwanese nationals can apply for new travel documents allowing them to enter and exit China.

‧ Allowing qualified Chinese nationals in 31 provinces and cities to apply for travel documents to visit Taiwan, regardless of the location of their official residence, plus extending the maximum length of visits to Kinmen by residents of Xiamen from one day to two.

‧ Expanding job opportunities for Taiwanese in China, including opening certification examinations for 10 professions to Taiwanese residents and providing support to Taiwanese who want to start a business in China after earning a degree there.

‧ The recognition by the Supreme People’s Court of China of civil settlements reached by the mediation committees of Taiwanese townships to better protect people’s rights.

‧ Increasing the number of designated bases for official cross-strait exchanges from 17 to 28, with the new ones including the Confucius Temple in Shandong Province and the Mausoleum of the 72 Revolutionary Martyrs in Guangzhou.

‧ The establishment of the first 10 designated bases for official cross-strait cultural exchanges, including the National Art Museum of China and the Cultural Friendship Association in Henan Province.

‧ The establishment of a national cross-strait copyright trading center and a base for the digital publishing industry in Chinese-controlled Fujian Province.

In addition, the government of Chinese-controlled Fujian Province announced seven measures of its own aimed at strengthening ties with Taiwan. Those measures include giving Taiwan three red pandas and providing assistance to Taiwanese small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the province.