China to remove visa requirements for Taiwanese

China to remove visa requirements for Taiwanese
Woman walks at the Bund in front of the financial district in Shanghai

China will lift a visa requirement for Taiwanese travelling to the mainland, state media reported Sunday, part of a wider plan to reduce barriers between the two communities.

Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the announcement at a forum in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, but did not give a date when the policy would take effect.

Taiwan residents currently need to apply for an "entry permit", similar to a visa, before travelling to the mainland. As part of the reform, the passport-like document that was previously used for the entry permit will be replaced with a card allowing automatic entry, Xinhua said.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification by force if necessary.

The self-ruled island split from China at the end of a civil war in 1949. Since he became president in 2008, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's pro-Beijing Kuomintang party has led a rapprochement with China, with more than 20 trade deals and a tourism boom as mainland visitors flock to the island.

But many ordinary Taiwanese feel they have reaped little benefit from the trade pacts and worry about getting closer to Beijing, which led to massive protests and the three-week occupation of parliament over a trade deal last year.

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