China, expanding its pledges to help neighboring economies ride out the global financial crisis, said on Saturday it was willing to meet requests for assistance from political rival Taiwan.
Ties between China and Taiwan, separated since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, have warmed since Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou took office in May. On Monday the two sides opened direct daily passenger flights, new shipping routes and postal links for the first time in six decades.
“We deeply sympathize with the economic difficulties faced by Taiwan and sincerely hope to cooperate on steps to cope with the international financial crisis,” said Jia Qinglin, the fourth most senior leader of China’s ruling Communist Party.
Jia Qinglin (C), chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, Wu Boxiong (R), chairman of Taiwan’s Nationalist party (KMT), and KMT Honorary Chairman Lien Chan attend the opening ceremony of the 4th Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum in Shanghai December 20, 2008. China, expanding its pledge to help neighbouring economies ride out the global financial crisis, said on Saturday it was willing to meet requests for assistance from political rival Taiwan.(Aly Song/Reuters)
“I solemnly declare that if the global economic situation continues to deteriorate and Taiwan asks for measures to ease its economic difficulties, the mainland is willing to do its utmost to provide aid.”
Jia said China was willing to make it easier for Taiwanese companies to trade and invest on the mainland, help them obtain financing, and cooperate to develop technologies in areas such as electronics, environmental protection and new forms of energy.
By Andrew Torchia
China hopes Taiwan will remove restrictions on imports of Chinese goods and let Chinese companies take part in big infrastructure projects on the island, he said.
Jia, opening a two-day meeting of over 400 delegates from the two sides, including businessmen, academics and officials of the Communist Party and Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party, did not give concrete details of China’s plans for economic assistance.
But his remarks were part of a flurry of economic diplomacy by China, which has so far suffered less from the global crisis than its neighbors and is presenting itself as a stabilising force in the region.
Earlier this month Chinese leaders announced a nearly $30 billion currency swap facility to help stabilize the South Korean won, and took part in a trilateral summit to discuss the crisis with South Korea and Japan.
On Friday, Hong Kong said Beijing had agreed to a package of 14 measures to aid the Chinese territory, including a currency swap facility, an easing of travel restrictions and the opening of more of China’s services sector to Hong Kong.
In recent years China has used economic assistance to Hong Kong to boost support for pro-Beijing politicians in the territory. Aid to Taiwan could help sway public opinion there toward Beijing’s goal of eventual reunification with the island.
Taiwan’s Nationalist Party chairman Wu Poh-hsiung told the meeting on Saturday that he hoped Beijing would facilitate the operations of Taiwanese companies on the mainland.
He also urged Beijing to boost the flow of Chinese tourists to Taiwan. An agreement in June allowed visits to begin, but Taiwan has been disappointed that daily visits have fallen short of a 3,000-person target, at least partly because of China’s rigorous screening process for travelers to the island.
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