China to set up cross-Straits integrated development demonstration zone
China will make Fujian Province a demonstration zone for integrated development across the Taiwan Straits, according to a circular released on Tuesday.
The circular, jointly issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, said the move is aimed at deepening cross-Straits integrated development in all fields and advancing the peaceful reunification of the motherland.
The document listed the general requirements and 21 specific measures for building the zone.
Fujian, situated on China's southeast coast, should leverage its distinctive advantages and harness a variety of resources to further enhance integrated cross-Straits development, according to the circular.
The circular said policies and systems will be optimized to promote the well-being of Taiwan compatriots and ensure they enjoy equal treatment with their mainland counterparts.
The objective, said the circular, is to make Fujian the first-choice destination for Taiwan residents and enterprises to pursue development on the mainland. The province will see more convenient personnel exchanges with Taiwan when the demonstration zone is built, it added.
By then, it said, trade and investment across the Taiwan Straits will be smoother, and cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation will expand to more fields and in greater depth.
The circular added that the pair cities of Xiamen and Kinmen as well as Fuzhou and Matsu will play an even more prominent role in promoting the cross-Straits integrated development.
The circular noted that Fujian should work to build multidimensional and comprehensive transport corridors and hubs linking itself with Taiwan and further open up channels connecting Fujian and Taiwan with other mainland regions.
It noted that Taiwan residents who have never been to the mainland are welcomed to visit Fujian. Students are welcomed to study in Fujian and employees are encouraged to work in Fujian.
Enterprises, especially Taiwan enterprises based in Fujian, are urged to hire more Taiwan employees, and Taiwan-based physicians are allowed to practice in Fujian.
Taiwan compatriots are encouraged to take part in social welfare programs. They will no longer need to register for temporary residence in Fujian.
The province should strengthen the institutional support for employment, health services, housing, elderly care services and social assistance of Taiwan compatriots in Fujian and improve cross-Straits judicial services, the circular said.
Deeper economic integration
Fujian should provide a better business environment for Taiwan compatriots and enterprises and deepen Fujian-Taiwan industrial cooperation, the circular said.
It should support the development of world-class industrial bases and manufacturing clusters that pool resources from both Fujian and Taiwan, and build a multi-tiered cross-Straits financial market, it noted, adding that greater support will be given to Taiwan agriculture and fishery enterprises operating in Fujian and sci-tech innovation cooperation between the province and Taiwan should be enhanced.
"Taiwan enterprises and business people are earnestly looking forward to the implementation of the measures," said Wu Chia-ying, executive vice president of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland.
Wu particularly spoke highly of the preferential policies in the circular regarding Fujian-Taiwan industrial cooperation and the development of Taiwan's agriculture and fishery enterprises and small and medium-sized firms.
Integration in whole province
The integrated development between Xiamen and Kinmen will be accelerated, the circular said. Kinmen residents living in Xiamen can enjoy the same treatment as local residents and efforts will be made to explore a model for Xiamen-Kinmen joint infrastructure development, facilitating the supplies of electricity and gas and the construction of bridges from Xiamen to Kinmen, and supporting Kinmen in using Xiamen's new airport.
The circular also announced support for the integrated development of Fuzhou and Matsu, noting measures including supporting the Fuzhou government to entitle Matsu residents in Fuzhou to the same treatments as local residents, setting up a Fuzhou-Matsu industrial cooperation park, and promoting the supplies of water, electricity and gas and the construction of bridges from Fuzhou to Matsu.
Support will be given to the Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Area in accelerating all-round opening up to Taiwan and other parts of Fujian are encouraged to expand exchanges with Taiwan. Quanzhou and Zhangzhou, both Minnan-dialect-speaking regions, are encouraged to develop themselves into a global center for Minnan culture.
The circular stressed the importance of expanding the social and cultural exchanges and cooperation between Fujian and Taiwan. It called for various forms of exchanges based on the two regions' bond of the belief in the Chinese sea goddess Mazu and other folk beliefs.
The circular encouraged communication and exchanges between young generations in Fujian and Taiwan. It suggested the two regions promote integrated development in culture, and jointly apply for the listing of Minnan red-brick buildings and Mazu cultural relics as World Cultural Heritage.
The circular called for an organizational guarantee for cross-Straits integrated development, including stronger financial support from the central budget to Fujian in this regard.
(Cover: A view of Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, May 28, 2023. /CFP)