The new initiative was announced at the 4th Straits Forum held in Xiamen on Sunday, with the Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, Wang Yi, declaring that Taiwanese residents would be granted equal status as their mainland compatriots when applying for jobs in the country.
Furthermore, employment service agencies in China would also begin offering free consulting services to Taiwan residents seeking jobs on the mainland, Wang added, and any Taiwanese students who were educated on the mainland would be able to secure employment in public institutions and services.
During the same meeting, Chinese officials also unveiled plans to extend the validity of travel documents for Taiwanese people visiting China to two years, starting on July 25.
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told the forum that the moves were designed to promote greater interaction between “the general public” of both countries, and was necessary for the Chinese government to better grasp the needs of Taiwanese, especially those in small and medium-sized enterprises and in agriculture.
Cross-strait tensions between the two countries have lessened over the years, particularly with authorities on both sides choosing to adopt ‘softer’ negotiation tactics over the nature of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Economic factors have also come into consideration, given that China is now Taiwan's top trading partner, with two-way trade hitting US$160 billion (S$203 billion) last year, a 10-per-cent increase over the previous year.
Feng Ting-kuo, an associate professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei, hailed the new moves, which she claimed would be useful to boosting educational exchanges.
"I appreciate the new move as it would encourage more Taiwan students to study, work and stay on the mainland, which can boost people-to-people exchanges across the Straits in response to closer economic ties," he said.