Customs officials examine fruit exported from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, via the Kaohsiung-Pingtan freight shipping route. (Photo by Hu MeiDong/China Daily)
Earlier this month, Pingtan county in Fujian province launched a special service center for Taiwan residents and businesses－the first of its kind in China.
The center provides consultation and other services related to Taiwan residents living and working on the Chinese mainland, including legal services, registering companies and applying for residence permits.
It has 18 staff members－nine locals and nine from Taiwan.
"The mainland staff teaches the Taiwan staff how to do the job, and the latter are good at communicating with Taiwan residents," said Chen Lan, deputy director of the center. "It's a good match."
Chang Chen-shuo, from Taipei, is one of the staff members from Taiwan. He is in charge of financial services at the center. It's his first job on the mainland. He lives in an apartment provided by the local government and is allowed three meals a day in the center's canteen.
"When I speak in their dialect with the businesspeople from Taiwan who come here, they feel warmer and more comfortable," he said.
Pingtan, an island off the coast of Fujian that is the nearest mainland county to Taiwan, is taking innovative measures to extend support to Taiwan residents to settle there. Many of its measures are firsts.
It's the first mainland county to use Taiwan residents in the public sector and State-owned enterprises to explore a model of cross-Straits co-governance.
As of March, 24 Taiwan residents had accepted jobs in local government, research centers, schools and hospitals, and seven are working as neighborhood directors in Pingtan.
In 2015, the county was approved as the China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone, with an emphasis on further opening-up cross-Straits communication. Local governments launched special policies designed to attract Taiwan investors and businesses to Pingtan.
Aoqian Taiwan Town, which opened in June 2014, is a duty-free commodity market tailored specifically for businesses from Taiwan. As of March it had attracted 270 tenants from Taiwan to open stores, with goods worth 3.3 billion yuan ($492 million) imported from Taiwan.
Chang Ming-jun, who opened a store last year that sells health products from Taiwan, said Taiwan residents who start a business in the building can use the facilities for free and get a monthly subsidy of 2,500 yuan for two years.
"The local government helped Taiwan residents working in Pingtan solve many problems. The two sides have many differences in industrial standards, and Pingtan tries to give us the same treatment as mainland residents," Chang said.
As a gateway to Taiwan, Pingtan is exploring more possibilities related to integrating industrial standards. About 40 types of Taiwan professional licenses are permitted in Pingtan in fields including architecture, healthcare and tourism.
So far, the county has issued certificates for 128 tour guides from Taiwan and introduced nine travel agencies from Taiwan to the county.