The Chinese mainland has announced a package of new policies to promote economic, trade and cultural relations with Taiwan.
A total of 13 new policies were announced at Sunday's closing ceremony of a two-day cross-Straits forum, co-sponsored by the Communist Party of China and the Chinese Kuomintang Party, Taiwan's major opposition party.
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and KMT Honorary Chairman Lien Chan were present at the closing ceremony.
Under the new policies, Taiwan shipping and road transport companies are allowed to set up wholly-owned companies or joint ventures on the mainland.
Taiwan enterprises are also encouraged to directly invest in the construction and operation of ports and road projects on the mainland.
Taiwan shipping companies, engaged in direct passenger transport between coastal cities in Fujian and Jinmen, Mazu and Penghu in Taiwan have been authorized to set up agencies and sell tickets on the mainland.
Taiwan's airline companies are encouraged to expand cooperation with mainland counterparts in aircraft maintenance, cargo storage, market development and code sharing.
The mainland also promised to improve laws and regulations to allow Taiwan aviation companies to launch joint-ventures to run airline companies, build airports and produce on-vehicle materials on the mainland with mainland partners.
The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China said Taiwan students are welcome to study in the mainland's civil aviation schools and aircraft maintenance technicians are welcome to work on the mainland.
The administration said Chengdu, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Dalian and Guilin will gradually become new destinations for non-stop chartered flights.
The cities that cross-Straits airlines currently fly to are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen on the mainland, and Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan. All Taiwan residents, businessmen and their relatives with valid certificates can take the flights.
Meanwhile, three more cities -- Guangzhou, Qingdao and Wuhan -- have been authorized to issue valid passes for Taiwan visitors entering the mainland, in addition to the existing eight cities of Shenyang, Dalian, Chengdu, Haikou, Sanya, Xiamen, Fuzhou and Shanghai.
To further personnel exchanges, the mainland said it will open 15 qualification tests for Taiwan professionals such as accountant, auctioneer, pharmacist and real estate agent.
Taiwan's universities are welcome to recruit students in the mainland and the Ministry of Education said it would provide assistance to students willing to study in Taiwan.
Participants at the forum also issued a joint proposal, urging the mainland and Taiwan to improve direct air and shipping transport services and cooperate more closely on education and tourism.
The proposal also says that the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations serves the common interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.
It calls for an early resumption of consultations on an equal footing between the mainland and Taiwan based on the principle of the '1992 Consensus'.
The "1992 Consensus" struck by the CPC and the then-incumbent KMT endorses the one-China principle.
Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the CPC Central Committee, said the mainland remains firmly committed to maintaining and improving the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.
He warned that attempts by Taiwan secessionist forces to undermine the status quo are a very serious threat to peace and stability.
"If compatriots across the Straits work together and seize the historic opportunity before us, a win-win result can be achieved and the Chinese nation will be reinvigorated," Chen said at the closing ceremony.
About 500 participants from the mainland and Taiwan attended the forum.
This is the third forum of its kind held in Beijing after the landmark meeting between CPC Central Committee General Secretary Hu Jintao and then KMT chairman Lien Chan in April 2005.
Hu invited Lien to dine on Sunday at Zhongnanhai in downtown Beijing, the Chinese leaders' compound, according to a forum press release.
(Xinhua News Agency April 30, 2007)