Increased trade and exchanges between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland have brought tangible benefits to people from both sides of the Taiwan Straits, especially those from Taiwan, and this fully demonstrates that cross-strait amity and cooperation are mutually beneficial, according to a white paper released on Wednesday.
The Chinese mainland is Taiwan's largest export market, as well as the largest destination for Taiwan's off-island investment, said the white paper titled "The Taiwan Question and China's Reunification in the New Era." It was released by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the State Council Information Office.
The white paper said that as more and more compatriots from Taiwan, especially young people, pursue their studies, start businesses, seek jobs, or go to live on the Chinese mainland, cross-strait exchanges, interaction and integration are intensified in all sectors, leading cross-strait relations towards reunification.
A large trade surplus for Taiwan
"The mainland has been Taiwan's largest export market for the last 21 years, generating a large annual surplus for the island," the white paper noted. It said that the volume of cross-strait trade rose to $328.34 billion in 2021 from only $46 million in 1978, up by a factor of over 7,000.
In 2021, Taiwan's trade with the Chinese mainland accounted for 25.2 percent of Taiwan's total external trade. The island's exports to the Chinese mainland accounted for 28.2 percent of Taiwan's total exports, while imports from the Chinese mainland accounted for 21.6 percent of the island's total imports.
Largest investment destination for Taiwan
The Chinese mainland has become the largest destination for Taiwan's outbound investment, attracting 32.6 percent of the island's total outbound investment in the first four months of this year.
Taiwan's investment on the Chinese mainland mainly went to Jiangsu, Shanghai, Fujian, Guangdong and other areas.
The investment was mostly related to professional, scientific and technical services with a share of 16.6 percent.
"By the end of 2021, Taiwan businesses had invested in almost 124,000 projects on the mainland, with a total value of $71.34 billion," the white paper said.
More visits to Taiwan for tourism
In 1987, less than 50,000 visits were made between the two sides across the Taiwan Straits, while this number soared to about nine million in 2019, according to the white paper.
From 1987 to the end of April 2022, there had been a total of 31.6 million visitors from the Chinese mainland to Taiwan. The annual number of visitors from the Chinese mainland to Taiwan hit a record high of about 4.1 million in 2015, nearly 81 percent of which traveled for tourism.
However, the number of visitors has plunged in recent years due to the impact of COVID-19. In January-April 2022, there were 4,400 visitors from the Chinese mainland to Taiwan.
Affected by COVID-19, online communication has become the main form of people-to-people interactions across the Taiwan Straits, and the numbers of people participating in and covered by online communication are reaching new highs.
In 1980, the GDP of the Chinese mainland was about $303 billion, just over seven times that of Taiwan, which was about $42.3 billion. In 2021, the GDP of the Chinese mainland was about $17.46 trillion, more than 22 times that of Taiwan, which was about $790 billion, according to the International Monetary Fund.
"China's development and progress, and in particular the steady increases in its economic power, technological strength, and national defense capabilities, are an effective curb against separatist activities and interference from external forces. They also provide broad space and great opportunities for cross-strait exchanges and cooperation," the white paper said.
(Graphics made by Xing Cheng)