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Cross-Straits exchanges irreversible
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Cross-Straits exchanges have experienced "extraordinary development" and their scope has greatly expanded over the past two decades, according to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

More than 46 million visits to the mainland, twice the population of Taiwan, will have been made by people from the island by the end of this year, said Dai Xiaofeng, director of the office's exchange bureau.

The official added that 1.6 million visits to Taiwan would be made by people from the mainland.

Dai made the statement on Thursday ahead of the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the mainland visit ban by the Taiwan authorities on November 2, 1987.

Nearly 400,000 Taiwan people currently live on the mainland, including more than 18,000 who have settled down, Dai told the Xinhua News Agency.

Notably, there are about 270,000 "cross-Straits marriages" between people from the mainland and Taiwan.

Noting that cross-Straits communication was an "irreversible trend of the era", Dai also pointed out that the Taiwan authorities tended to limit exchanges, which were greatly affected by secessionist moves in Taiwan.

Wu Chi-feng, a 32-year-old Taiwanese architect who now works in Shanghai and is married to a mainlander, said that the island's authorities discriminate against brides from the mainland.

For instance, mainland wives can apply for naturalization only after living in Taiwan for eight years, and they are not permitted to work for most of that period.

Brides from Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines can be naturalized in four years, and they can work after the first six months.

"The rules on mainland brides are so rigid, and very unfair," said Wu.

Dai also mentioned the mainland had drawn up a package of policies to boost cross-Straits exchanges.

They include 54 preferential measures for Taiwan compatriots promulgated since 2005 and 48 economic, trade and cultural exchange policies since 2006.

"Up to now, the mainland has carried out all planned preferential policies for Taiwan, and is actively promoting the settlement of issues that require consultation by both sides," Dai said.

The mainland last month proposed the establishment of a peace agreement with Taipei while calling for a formal end to the state of hostilities across the Taiwan Straits which has existed since 1949.

Addressing the recently concluded 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, pledged that the mainland would continue to implement and develop policies and measures that benefit Taiwan compatriots.

It will also protect their legitimate rights and interests on the mainland.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily November 3, 2007)

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