Sweeteners coming for Taiwanese firms on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 March, 2011, 12:00am

Beijing will give Taiwanese businesses operating on the mainland more sweeteners in the next five years.

The 12th five-year plan, a draft of which was released yesterday, says a fair, transparent and convenient economic co-operation mechanism - tailor-made for cross-strait development - will be gradually built up after the signing of a landmark trade pact, the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement, by the two sides last year.

The draft says Beijing will 'actively support the transformation and upgrading of Taiwanese enterprises on the mainland', and strengthen cross-strait co-operation in intellectual property rights protection, trade promotion, trade facilitation and other areas.

In order to encourage two-way investment and foster emerging industries, the finance sector and other modern service industries on both sides of the strait, Beijing will support the establishment of a cross-strait currency settlement system.

With more yuan flowing into Taiwan as cross-strait business ties multiply, the currency settlement mechanism was first proposed by Taipei in 2009. Its purpose will be to procure yuan notes more cheaply for Taiwanese retail banking customers and reduce the number of fake notes in circulation on the island.

The draft plan says the central government will continue to support the Western Taiwan Straits Economic Zone, in Fujian province, to play a leading role in exchanges and co-operation between the two sides.

'We will enhance mutual political trust and consolidate the political foundation for peaceful development of cross-strait relations,' Premier Wen Jiabao told deputies yesterday at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress. 'We will adhere to the major principles and policies for developing relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and promoting the peaceful reunification of our motherland.'

Even so, there was less mention of cross-strait relations in Wen's speech this year, compared to the past.

Liu Guoshen, the head of Xiamen University's Taiwan Research Institute, said that was because the Taiwan issue was not viewed as a 'big problem' by the Beijing leadership.

'Compared with past years, current cross-strait relations are more harmonious,' he said. Taipei-based political commentator Nan Fangshuo said such harmony should be attributed to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's Beijing-friendly polices.