Fujian to lead on cross-Straits ties
By Lin Shujuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-13 08:48
Fujian province is set to become the "pilot region" for cross-Straits communication and cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan, Huang Xiaojing, governor of the province, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual NPC session.
Fujian, as the pillar of the economic zone on the western coast of the Taiwan Straits, "has the opportunity and responsibility to be at the forefront of exchanges and cooperation between the two sides", Huang said.
The development of the economic zone, aimed at attracting businesses from Taiwan, has been included in the national 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).
The establishment of the economic zone is also meant to help speed up economic integration with Taiwan across the Straits.
"The 'pilot region' strategy is derived from Fujian's position and the goodwill of its people to promote reunification across the Straits," the governor said.
"Besides its geographic proximity, Fujian shares ancestral origins, languages, folk customs and cultural traditions with Taiwan."
Nongovernmental economic and cultural exchanges across the Straits have been increasingly active in recent years, Huang said.
More than 778,000 people flew between the mainland and Taiwan via Fujian last year, up from 61,000 in 2002, according to official statistics.
At the same time, growing ties between the two sides have reaped rewards, Huang said.
Last year, Fujian's utilized investment from Taiwanese businesses grew up to $3.47 billion, compared to $1.4 billion in 2006, with the volume of trade between the two regions doubling as well.
"The trend for further exchange and cooperation between the two sides of the Straits is unstoppable," Huang said.
"The next five years will be a crucial period for us to tap into this trend and develop the economic zone of the western coast of the Taiwan Straits.
"We will continue to foster an ever more favorable environment for investors from Taiwan," Huang said.
"By favorable, we no longer mean simple promotional measures like tax or tariff exemption, rather, we aim to foster an environment to enable and enhance overall industrial connection between the two sides."
Huang said his province hopes to deepen its cooperation with the island in the hi-tech, financial and logistics industries.
Cultural and historical bonds will be another vital area of focus.
The province, where 80 percent of people in Taiwan have their ancestral homes, will boost cultural exchange and help more people from Taiwan visit their relatives or pay tribute to their ancestors, he said.
Preferential policies will also be handed out to Taiwan farmers by implementing a tariff-free policy for agricultural products imported from Taiwan.
Similarly, the province will upgrade its facilities and improve customs services as part of efforts to become the hub of cross-Straits transportation, he said.