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Region to aid Taiwan, mainland exchanges
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Fujian Province will speed up the building of a "pilot region" for cross-Straits communication and cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan, governor Huang Xiaojing said in the first annual session of the 11th Fujian people's congress held on Friday.

The province's geographical advantages will help it spearhead the development of economic and cultural exchange with Taiwan, Huang said.

At the same time, growing ties between the two sides have reaped fruits, he added. Last year, Fujian's utilized capital from Taiwan grew up to $3.47 billion and the volume of trade between the two doubled.

More than 778,000 passengers traveled between the mainland and Taiwan via direct routes from Fujian in that time, up from 61,000 in 2002.

"The next five years will be a crucial period for us to develop the economic zone on the western part of the Taiwan Straits," Huang said. The country included the development of the economic zone, aimed at attracting businesses from Taiwan, in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010).

Huang said Fujian hopes to deepen its cooperation with the island in the hi-tech, financial and logistics industries.

Cultural and historical bonds will be another vital part. The province will boost cultural exchange and attract more people from Taiwan to visit relatives or pay tribute to their ancestors.

Preferential policies will also be handed out to Taiwan farmers by implementing a tariff-free policy for agricultural products imported from Taiwan. The province will also upgrade its transportation facilities and improve customs services as part of efforts to become the main cross-Straits transportation hub, he said.

(China Daily January 21, 2008)

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