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Xinhua’s Taipei Bureau: Review of Mainland China’s Local Government Delegations’ Visits to Taiwan

[Editor’s Note: A recent Xinhua article gave a brief review of how, in recent years, China’s local government delegations have used cultural exchange programs and business operations to make frequent visits to Taiwan. According to the article, which is from Xinhua‘s Taipei bureau, these efforts have resulted in a great improvement in the Taiwanese perception of Beijing. The following is a translation of selected parts of the article.] [1]

“A large group led by the acting Governor of Shaanxi Province, Zhao Zhengyong, is currently visiting Taiwan. This “exchange trip,” which is being called Taiwan’s “2010 Shaanxi Week,” includes a lot of cultural, economic, trade, science, and technology activities. The Yulin Ditty, the Northern Shaanxi Yangko dance, and the epic Opera ‘The Great Tang’… are all giving Taipei the full and rich flavors of Shaanxi in this beautiful fall season.”

“At the beginning of spring, the Shanghai City Mayor, Han Zheng, visited Taipei with many business opportunities from the Shanghai Expo 2010. Later, the Guangdong delegation visited Taiwan and greatly increased trade. Now, as the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, the people from Northern Shaanxi are bringing the ancient Qin Dynasty rhymes. … This year, mainland local group’s visits to Taiwan have been really magnificent. Top provincial and city government officials have led so many mainland groups to come one after another. They have boosted the sharing atmosphere across the straits, pushed the cross-strait exchanges into more fields, raised the level and standards of cross-strait exchanges, and infused new energy into the ‘Great communication age’ between China and Taiwan.”

“Sichuan Province CCP Secretary Liu Qibao led a delegation to visit Taiwan in May. When he arrived at the airport, he said that the delegation came to Taiwan with a thankful heart for the Taiwan people’s support during the Wenchuan Earthquake. He said that the delegation would like to express their appreciation to the Taiwan compatriots. Fujian Province is very close to Taiwan geographically and many Taiwanese originally came from Fujian. Thus when the Fujian Province delegation visited Taiwan, Governor Huang Xiaojing regarded the trip as ‘a family visit.’”

“Recently Taiwan has experienced the Shandong-Taiwan Economic, Trade, and Culture Week, the Hebei and Taiwan Economic Cooperation and Exchange Week, Hunan Week, Guangdong Week, Shaanxi week, and so on. Through the in-depth contacts with Taiwanese society as well as the face-to-face interactions with the Taiwanese people, the mainland visitors with diverse backgrounds are helping to build a ‘Bridge of Friendship and Good Relations’ between the mainland provinces and Taiwan.”

“Statistics show that during the first half of this year, more and more people from the mainland and Taiwan have engaged in large-scale cross-strait exchanges. At least 800,000 visitors have come from the mainland to Taiwan, up 69.3% from the same period last year. Many of the mainland provinces and autonomous regions have played an active and positive role.”

“ Taiwan’s United Daily Newspaper has done a poll on annual cross-strait relations and people’s opinions. It showed that, of the Taiwanese people who personally knew someone from the mainland or whose spouse was from mainland, 40% had a good impression of mainlanders. This was 10% higher than for the Taiwanese people who have not yet had frequent contacts with people from the mainland. This really shows that the cross-strait exchanges can eliminate unnecessary misunderstanding among the people, and enhance mutual understanding and affection.”

“There are all kinds of rich cultural and economic exchanges available among the current changing theme for the exchanges between the mainland’s local groups and Taiwan.”

“As the exchanges with Taiwan from the mainland deepen this year, the mainland’s colorful and diverse cultures are playing a big role. When the Guangxi delegation went to Taiwan, it shared the musical ‘Third Sister Liu’ [2] with the Taiwan people. The musical drew upon the Taiwan people’s imagination and fascination with the mountains, waters, and people of Guangxi. When the Hebei delegation visited Taiwan, it brought in the erhu, folk songs, the Hebei clapper, wood paintings, weaving arts, and many other traditional folk art. The Taiwan compatriots also had a chance to personally experience the charm of traditional Chinese opera. The Shaanxi group brought a big epic and a dance group and performed the epic opera, ‘The Great Tang,’ which took the Taiwan audience back through time and space and into the ‘Golden Age of the Tang Dynasty.’”

“‘Doing business’ is also a ‘highlight’ between the mainland’s local groups and Taiwan. For instance, the provinces that have had a faster economic development, such as Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Shandong, launched big trade initiatives with Taiwan during their visits. In May, the Shandong delegation initiated intents to purchase in Taiwan amounting to $1.569 billion U.S.; in August, the Guangdong delegation signed 205 purchase agreements, with a total value of more than seven billion U.S. dollars.

“Taiwan’s business circles believe that the mainland local group’s active purchases not only drove up Taiwan’s exports, and led the recovery of Taiwan’s production, but also benefited the general public, such as small and medium enterprises, and their employees.”

“From the south to the north, from the east to the west, across the mainland continent, the visiting delegations have been at the provincial level. They focused on pragmatic measures to reach the ‘shared goal of cross-strait peaceful development,’ carried out exchanges with Taiwan based on their local conditions, truly led the cross-strait exchanges to a new stage of two-way courtesy interaction, and made the levels of the exchanges with Taiwan more comprehensive, the content richer, and the areas broader.”

“Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, Hubei Province Party Secretary Luo Qingquan, Fujian Province Governor Huang Xiaojing, Shandong Province Deputy Governor Cai Limin, Sichuan Province Party Secretary Liu QiBao, Hebei Province Deputy Governor Yang Chongyong, Zhejiang Province Governor Lu Zushan, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Party Secretary Guo Shengkun, Hunan Province Deputy Party Secretary Mei Kebao, Guangdong Province Governor Huang Huahua, Shaanxi Province Acting Governor Zhao Zhengyong … so many senior level local officials, one followed by another, personally took steps to visit Taiwan. With these, it truly showed the mainland’s sincerity and determination for improving cross-strait relations with Taiwan, and also showed the mainland officials’ distinct, simple working style.”

“It should be noted that the exchanges between the mainland’s local delegations and Taiwan are just emerging and still in their infancy. For the participants, in addition to their enthusiasm, they should pay more attention to strengthening the activities with more rational planning. In particular, due to our vast territory, the provinces and autonomous regions are often highly diverse with unique regional characteristics. Therefore while carrying out exchanges with Taiwan, each region should pay attention to its own special features, just like the famous line, ‘Eight Immortals crossed the ocean but all had their own ways.’ This way we will be able to ensure long and steady progress.”

[1] Xinhua, September 15, 2010
[2] Third Sister Liu, or [刘三姐],  a Guangxi style opera.