Beijing’s inclusion of cross-strait high-speed rail network in its new five-year plan reflects President Xi Jinping’s long-term strategy on Taiwan, analysts said on Sunday. The 126km line from Pingtan – a pilot free-trade zone area set up by Beijing in Fujian province in 2013 to boost trade with Taiwan – to Taipei would be the world’s longest rail tunnel if the proposal is realised. According to the 13th five-year plan from 2016 to 2020, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2030. “The Pingtan-Taipei section is part of the Beijing-Taipei high-speed rail line that has been studied for more than a decade. The mainland part has been completed while the Taiwan part is awaiting Taiwan’s approval,” Pingtan Experimental Development Zone head Zhang Zhaomin said at a National People’s Congress panel discussion yesterday. “There is no technical barrier to the cross-strait rail line. We have gathered advice from experts cross the Taiwan Strait and they have done research and met every year over the past decade.” The project is controversial in Taiwan but Taipei-based political commentator Wang Shing-ching said the island could be won over if the mainland could convince the public it could be built. “In Taiwan, the public has focused on the technical issues so far, but people with a long-term strategic view of cross-strait ties could be convinced [of its value],” Wang said. “The project indicates the mainland is confident that [pro-independence] Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen will not clearly deny the ‘1992 consensus’ on her inauguration speech on May 20 to become Taiwan’s president.” READ MORE: Full coverage of China’s ‘Two Sessions’ Taipei-based cross-strait expert Professor Arthur Ding said political differences between Beijing and Taipei were still the biggest obstacles for the project. On Saturday, Xi told Shanghai NPC delegates that Beijing’s policy on Taiwan had remained clear and consistent irrespective of the “change in Taiwan’s political situation”. They were his first public remarks on cross-strait ties since Tsai and the DPP won presidential and legislative polls in January. Chang Ling-chen, from National Taiwan University, said Xi’s remarks reflected his determination to cement progress on cross-strait political ties by 2020.