China plans to drop the entry permit requirement for Taiwan residents visiting the mainland, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, announced the plan at the 7th Straits Forum, the largest annual event for cross-strait exchanges, in Xiamen in the southeastern province of Fujian.
Currently, Taiwan residents must apply for a visa-like entry permit in order to visit the mainland.
The move is an inducement from China to Taiwan ahead of the island’s presidential election in January, Reuters said, noting that Taiwan’s pro-independence party, the Democratic Progressive Party, has a strong chance of retaking power.
In March last year, thousands of young people occupied Taiwan’s parliament in an unprecedented protest against a planned trade pact calling for closer ties with Beijing, and the Nationalists suffered a heavy setback in local elections in November.
Cross-strait exchanges and travels increased after 2008, when Taiwan’s Kuomintang adopted mainland-friendly policies and the two sides opened direct mail, transport and trade links, Xinhua said.
In 2011 China began to allow residents in certain cities to visit Taiwan as individual tourists. So far, residents in 47 cities have been given such permits.
Last year Taiwan residents made 5.37 million visits to the mainland, up from 4.36 million in 2008. Mainlanders made 4.04 million visits to Taiwan last year, compared with 280,000 in 2008.
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