Two members of a Taiwanese Navy honor guard fold Taiwan's flag during a ceremony in Taipei. Photo: AFP / Mandy Cheng

The Taiwan Affairs Office under the Chinese State Council in Beijing said on Wednesday that it was finalizing policies to extend, among other things, national recognition, economic benefits and subsidies to the Taiwanese diaspora in mainland China.

Hailing the measures as “unprecedented,” TAO spokesman An Fengshan said the slew of 31 incentives would allow “Taiwanese compatriots” to tap opportunities arising from mainland China’s economic development.

The incentives seek to bring an “equality of opportunity” to mainlanders and Taiwanese studying, doing business, working or living in China, he said.

The incentives include permitting Taiwanese firms to invest in mainland businesses, receive tax rebates, and bid for government procurement contracts.

Also, Taiwan-invested entities are to receive the same subsidies and concessions that used to be exclusive to their mainland counterparts.

Beijing will also relax restrictions on cross-strait co-production of films and TV programs, modeling on a similar arrangement entered with Hong Kong.

The 31 incentives are “tailor-made” for Taiwanese, Xinhua said in a report.

The Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei has responded that it was aware of Beijing’s new move to “induce Taiwanese to trade loyalty and political recognition for economic perks” and urged vigilance now that Beijing has used both stick and carrot in its dealings with the island, which Beijing has steadfastly insisted is a breakaway province.

The MAC called on China to work toward introducing mutually beneficial policies that are free of political agendas, saying that only then could benign cross-strait interactions be maintained.

There are rumors that Beijing is also considering issuing identity cards, Chinese passports and open hukou (household registration) to all Taiwanese living on the mainland, whose total number exceeded 300,000 last year.

Beijing has been pinning its hopes on Taiwanese businesspeople and students on the mainland, who supposedly favor reunification more than their compatriots back home, to form a synergy to browbeat separatists in presidential elections on the island.

This strategy is in tandem with continued military menacing: The Chinese military did not stop its air circumnavigation of the island even during the Lunar New Year period in February.

Economic and political rewards have long been doled out to “patriotic” Taiwanese, with chartered flights arranged to make sure they could return home to vote for candidates from the more Beijing-friendly parties such as the Kuomintang prior to presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan.

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