New measure is aimed at luring more HK professionals to work on the island Dependents of Taiwan-based Hong Kong professionals will be allowed to stay on the island as residents under a new measure soon to be ratified by the cabinet. Under a revised rule, approved by the Mainland Affairs Council yesterday, spouses and children of professionals from Hong Kong working in the financial, technology and other sectors qualify to apply for residential status. At present, they can stay in Taiwan only as visitors for up to six months even though the professionals have obtained working permits and live there as residents. 'The relaxation of the regulation is aimed at encouraging more Hong Kong professionals to work in Taiwan,' said Jonathan Liu Teh-hsun, vice-chairman of the island's top mainland policy body. The revised regulation, which still needs cabinet approval - considered a formality - would also apply to the spouses and dependents of professionals from Macau, council officials said. The council yesterday also approved a draft revision from the Ministry of Transport to allow foreign-flagged vessels to ship cargo from the mainland to a third country via Taiwan's offshore shipping centre in Kaohsiung. Mainland goods are barred from entering the centre at present even if they are bound for a third country. Taiwan does not allow direct imports of mainland goods. The council also approved revised regulations aimed at promoting interchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, including allowing mainlanders to apply from the mainland to inherit funds left to them by relatives in Taiwan. But they must show that they are either sick or unable to travel to Taiwan to inherit the assets. A study by the council shows that a statement issued by the mainland on May 17, three days before President Chen Shui-bian's inauguration for a second term, has set the tone for Beijing's policy towards the island. Mr Liu said the statement showed that Beijing was resorting to a 'carrot-and-stick' approach in dealing with the island. While sternly warning Taipei against independence, it was offering incentives, including resumption of cross-strait talks and establishment of a mutually trusted military framework, to placate Taiwan. He said the statement emphasised the one-China principle. Mr Liu said the mainland was also trying to woo as many of Taiwan's diplomatic allies as possible and to pressure other countries to oppose Taiwanese independence. Separately, Taiwanese travel agencies are to tighten requirements for mainland tourists visiting the island after more than 30 tourists disappeared. At a meeting to discuss the issue, council representatives and other parties decided that all mainland tourists must give contact numbers and addresses of their relatives or friends in Taiwan.