BEIJING (AP) — China will make it easier for Taiwanese to visit, state media reported Monday, in the latest appeal to voters ahead of crucial presidential elections on the island in January.
Rule changes will remove the need for Taiwanese visitors to apply for entry permits, the reports said, citing comments by top government adviser Yu Zhengsheng at a weekend China-Taiwan forum.
Travel passes issued by Beijing to Taiwanese will be converted from passport-like documents to a basic computer readable card, the reports said.
China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and doesn't recognize passports issued by the self-governing island democracy, which split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949.
Over the past decade, China has sought to court the Taiwanese electorate with economic incentives such as market access for the island's agricultural goods and visits by free-spending Chinese tourists.
However, many Taiwanese voters have balked at closer ties, fearing for the island's political independence and worried that the benefits go mainly to the rich and major corporations instead of the struggling middle class.
Dissatisfaction with the ruling Nationalist Party's pro-China policies resulted in massive wins for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party in last year's local elections.
That has raised expectations for a strong showing in next year's elections in which DPP candidate Tsai Ying-wen is the early front runner. The DPP is also expected to perform strongly in polls for the national legislature being held the same day.
Unlike the Nationalists, the DPP has refused to endorse Beijing's insistence that it recognize China and Taiwan as part of a single country.