12/22/2008, 00.00
CHINA - TAIWAN
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China will help Taiwan face economic crisis

Loans to Taiwanese companies operating in China, tax cuts, and other breaks for companies of the island, announced following a high-level political forum. Beijing is talking about "a new beginning" in relations in the Strait. Tomorrow, two giant pandas donated by China arrive in Taipei.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Beijing will lend 130 billion yuan (13 billion euros) over 3 years to Taiwanese business owners operating in China, as part of a plan of cooperation to help the island face the global financial crisis.

Yesterday in Shanghai, at the end of two days of high-level political meetings between the two countries, it was announced among other things that there will be tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses from Taiwan, greater cooperation in agriculture and for high-technology industries and in the area of new energy sources, together with the participation of Taiwanese companies in Chinese financing to stimulate the economy. Beijing also intends to buy flat panel displays made in Taiwan, for a value of 2 billion dollars.

In the past, Taiwanese companies have invested about 150 billion dollars in China, but now they are also in crisis because of the rise in the cost of labor, the drop in demand for products and exports, and the erosion of profit margins.

More than 400 delegates took part in the forum, including many significant members of the Kuomintang Party (KMT), at the head of the government of Taipei. At the end, both sides celebrated the "complete success" of the meeting, and "a new beginning" in relations across the Strait of Taiwan. Wang Yi, director of the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, insisted that "compatriots on both sides [of the Strait of Taiwan] are part of the same family. We feel the same pain at this current time of economic difficulties in Taiwan."

The forum is in its fourth edition. Jia Qingling, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (in the photo), insisted that this time, the forum had "greater importance" than previous ones.

Relations between the two states have increased after Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT became president in May. Today in Chengdu, the airplane arrived from Taiwan that will depart again tomorrow to bring to the island the couple of giant pandas donated by Beijing, named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, names that taken together mean "reunite." China is famous for its so-called "panda diplomacy," with gifts of the famous animal that is found in its natural habitat only there, and given to foreign countries as a sign of good relations. This gift was offered to Taipei beginning in 2006, but was always declined by the previous president, Chen Shui-bian, a fervent nationalist.

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