Annual forum boosts exchanges and cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan
By Ji Jing  ·  2021-12-20  ·   Source: NO.51 DECEMBER 23, 2021
An exchange activity between people with disabilities from both sides of the Taiwan Straits takes place during the 13th Straits Forum in Xiamen, Fujian Province, on December 10

Xu Tao, a 28-year-old from Taiwan, started a business with his mainland classmate Bao Guanyu in Beijing.

Xu had launched businesses in Taipei three times during his university years but none proved successful. When he was deciding whether he should stay in Taiwan or go to the United States after graduation, his classmate Bao, who was on an exchange program at his university, told him about shared bikes and food delivery services on the mainland and presented him with a third choice—going to the mainland.

Their company is an online job-hunting platform called HR Tech China. In the beginning, the company had difficulties finding investors and suffered capital chain rupture. However, Xu didn't give up. During the hardest time, the company's core team delivered parcels during the day and developed their products at night. In 2019, the company secured angel investment, allowing it to enter operation in 2020. Over the past year, the company has helped over 30,000 people find jobs.

"You'll never know how big the world is without crossing the Straits," Xu said while sharing his experiences at the 13th Straits Forum held in the coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian Province. The forum is the largest annual event focusing on promoting people-to-people exchanges across the Taiwan Straits. He said the mainland has abundant opportunities and he encouraged Taiwan youth to learn more about the mainland's development.

Shared aspirations

The forum, themed expanding people-to-people exchanges and deepening integrated development, opened on December 10 and took place both online and offline. Over 40 activities in youth, cultural and economic exchanges were held and over 5,000 people from Taiwan travelled to Xiamen to take part in the offline event.

"Resolving the Taiwan question and realizing the complete reunification of the country is a historic

mission of the Communist Party of China (CPC)," Wang Yang, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said while addressing the forum on December 11.

"We have full confidence in completing the mission," Wang said.

He said the wide participation demonstrated that the trend of cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation is "unstoppable," and that no one can go against the will of compatriots on both sides to get closer to each other.

"Efforts will be made to promote peaceful and integrated development of cross-Straits relations, improve systems and policies that guarantee the wellbeing of Taiwan compatriots and ensure they enjoy equal treatment on the mainland," he said.

"Taiwan compatriots, especially young people, are welcome to pursue their dreams and fulfill their aspirations on the mainland," he added.

Eric Chu Li-luan, Chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) party, said in his address via video link that the KMT bears great responsibility for maintaining stable cross-Straits relations. "The KMT is committed to the goal of improving the people's wellbeing and will continue to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations," he said.

Wu Cheng-tien, Chairman of Taiwan's New Party, said in his address that the party will do its utmost as long as it's conducive to peaceful reunification and cross-Straits exchanges and development. He also called on Taiwan compatriots to work together to promote peaceful reunification.

Exchanges and cooperation

The youth exchange is an important part of the forum and a dynamic part of cross-Straits exchanges. At the 19th Straits Youth Forum held during the meetup, 10 young entrepreneurs from Taiwan were awarded the title Star of Entrepreneurship. They will be given three years of guidance for their projects and 50,000 yuan ($7,860) in startup capital.

Huang Kaijia, founder of a cultural and tourism company, is one of the recipients of the prize. She has been on the mainland for less than a year and took part in the forum for the first time.

"The Chinese mainland is the only major economy that realized positive growth in 2020, which makes starting a business here an even wiser choice," Huang said.

The forum is also a platform for cultural exchange. At the Caring for the Growth of the Next Generation subforum, children from Taiwan sang a nursery rhyme in the dialect of southern Fujian Province.

The dialect, spoken by people on both sides of the Straits, is a testimony to the fact that the two sides share the same cultural roots.

"I was born in Kaohsiung [in Taiwan] and these nursery rhymes constitute part of my childhood memories," Wang Jialin, a program executive from the Cross-Straits Urban and Rural Development Fund, said at the subforum. "These rhymes are good mediums for cross-Straits cultural exchange. I hope the next generation on both sides of the Straits will have a better understanding of these rhymes and pass on traditional culture to future generations."

Management of residential communities has received increasing attention on the Chinese mainland in recent years. The Community Management subforum, which has been held once every year for eight years, has provided a platform for sharing community management experiences across the Straits.

Xinglong Community in Xiamen is an example of how people from Taiwan are participating in community management on the mainland. In 1993, a Taiwan real estate company was established at the community. The company has built many residential compounds in the area.

The community has attracted over 300 people from Taiwan to live and work there, and 22 Taiwan enterprises to operate in the area. Nearly 90 percent of the Taiwan residents have resided here for over 10 years, and now they increasingly participate in local community management.

A mediation workshop was established in 2015 to solve disputes between residents. The workshop is named after Xiong Qi, who is from Taiwan and has lived in Xiamen for over 20 years.

Under his influence, others from Taiwan also take part in community management, providing volunteer services such as directing traffic and patrolling the neighborhoods. Many Taiwan residents living in the community said they don't want to leave after settling down here.

The Straits Forum is also an important platform for both sides of the Straits to advance economic cooperation and explore development opportunities.

At the financial subforum, experts conducted discussions about how to enhance financial cooperation across the Straits to promote the high-quality development of Taiwan enterprises.

At the subforum, the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland and Xiamen's Jinyuan Group signed a strategic cooperation agreement, vowing to explore new types of financial services for Taiwan enterprises to help them integrate into the mainland's economic development.

Jinyuan Group is a comprehensive financial services provider holding financial licenses in securities, trust and consumer finance. It's also a pioneer in financial cooperation across the Straits, having established the first joint-venture securities company and consumer finance company between the mainland and Taiwan.

As the mainland province closest to Taiwan, Fujian has functioned as a pilot area for cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation. This year, the province has overcome the difficulties posed by the pandemic to host over 200 exchange activities with Taiwan. In the first three quarters of the year, there were over 1,000 new Taiwan investment projects in the province, and trade between Taiwan and Fujian grew by more than 20 percent.

Wu Jiaying, Chairman of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises in Xiamen, said the trend of steady growth of the mainland economy will not change and its market prospects will only get better. "The mainland is always the best investment destination for Taiwan enterprises," he said.

(Print Edition Title: Crossing the Straits) 

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson

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