Xi Urges Chinese Province to Deepen Ties With Democratic Taiwan

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged Fujian to do more to develop ties with Taiwan, a sign of Beijing’s continuing efforts to bring the democratically ruled island under its sway.

Xi told provincial officials to “be bold in exploring new paths for integrated cross-strait development,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday. He urged them to focus on offering policies that would benefit Taiwanese people and deepen mutual understanding, Xinhua said, without elaborating.

Xi worked in Fujian from 1985 to 2002, rising from vice mayor of Xiamen to provincial governor, and recalled that period as he wrapped up a four-day “inspection tour.”

“I worked in Fuzhou for six to seven years,” he said. “I came here at the age of 37 and spent the best years of my life here. I gained a lot of experience and understanding.”

The Chinese leader also visited RICOM Group, an optical lens company in Fuzhou, according to Xinhua. The company says on the Chinese-language version of its website that it supplies the Shenzhou manned spacecraft program.

China works to entice companies and individuals to work on the mainland, while at the same time isolating the current government of the island, which sits just 130 kilometers (80 miles) across a strait from Fujian. Beijing said earlier this month it would let agricultural firms sell bonds on the mainland and also enjoy preferential insurance and credit policies.

Beijing at the same time exerts pressure on the government of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party supports independence. China cut off ties with the island Tsai was elected 2016, and kept up that pressure after she won a second term.

Chinese military jets make frequent incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, and the mainland sometimes flexes its economic might to the island of nearly 24 million people. Last month China blocked pineapple imports, saying it found pests in shipments.

Xi said in 2019 that the mainland is “not committed to renouncing the use of force” to take control of the island, which has strong economic and security ties to the U.S.

The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been ruled separately since Chiang Kai-shek moved his government to the island as he lost a civil war.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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