Jun 18, 2013

    New China policies to boost cross-straits ties

    CHINA announced six measures aimed at promoting further exchanges with Taiwan on Sunday, saying that there are another 25 in the pipeline.

    Mr Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, made the announcement at a cross-Taiwan Strait forum in the Chinese city of Xiamen, saying that he was authorised to unveil six of a total of 31 measures that the Chinese government is taking to increase exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan.

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

    The spate of new measures seemed to be China's latest effort to woo Taiwanese hearts and minds after China President Xi Jinping took over the reins of power in March.

    In response, Taiwan's 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 visit Taiwan.

    China will also increase 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.

    The mainland will also open 10 more categories of professional qualification examinations to Taiwan residents, support Taiwan people that have graduated from the mainland's colleges starting their own businesses, and provide subsidies for entrepreneurship training to students from Taiwan, Xinhua News Agency reported.

    Other announcements include measures to facilitate official and cultural cross-strait exchanges.

    Speaking at the forum, Mr Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, also made an overture to supporters of Taiwan independence.

    "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.

    The developments come on the heels of a meeting between Mr Xi and Mr Wu Poh-hsiung, honorary chairman of the Kuomintang Party, which governs Taiwan, last Thursday.

    "It is the sixth time that Wu has been to Beijing with visiting delegations, but the first time since Xi became the party chief in November," the state-run China Daily newspaper said.

    Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou initiated detente with Beijing when he came to power in 2008 and there has been a marked improvement in relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

    The island and its giant neighbour have opened up direct flights and forged 18 agreements covering areas ranging from banking to crime-fighting over the past five years. A historic trade pact was also signed in 2010.