Chinese culture has always been a basis and driving force of cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation. In the new era, Chinese culture will keep playing an essential role in uniting compatriots from both sides of the Straits to work together to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
With 2018 marking the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, and Jan 1, 2019, marking the 40th anniversary of a Message to Taiwan Compatriots, nearly every aspect of exchanges across the Straits has deepened, increasingly injecting new impetus into the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.
Pop music from Taiwan campuses became popular on the Chinese mainland in the 1980s, bringing plenty of artistic enjoyment and the island's latest news to mainland compatriots.
In addition, a Taiwan singer became the first person to perform at a concert on the mainland. It led to the first group of senior citizens from across the Straits visiting the mainland for the first time since the 1940s for family reunion in 1988. Similarly, a Taiwan actor played a role in a mainland TV series and thus helped introduce customs from the mainland to Taiwan audiences. Ever since, a growing number of films and TV programs have won popularity on the island. And the 14th Cross-Straits Book Fair in 2018 exhibited about 300,000 books from both sides of the Straits in Taiwan.
Besides, in 2008, the start of "three direct links" of trade, transport and postal services marked eight years of prosperity in cross-Straits exchanges in all respects. Also, thanks to genealogy, residents in Fujian province have strengthened their relationships with many Taiwan residents as they worship their common ancestors together.
The mainland has stuck to its stance of peaceful reunification along with the "one country, two systems" principle. It has the confidence not only in its path, theory and system, but also in the cultural belief that both sides use the same language and characters, and practice the same culture, which have helped boost exchanges, cooperation and reunification efforts between the two sides.
As for peaceful reunification, the mainland has always placed its hopes on Taiwan compatriots. Due to the patriotic Chinese tradition and uninterrupted development of Chinese culture for more than 5,000 years, and the common spiritual home of the people on both sides, Taiwan residents have always been part of the cause of national development, and helped safeguard the sovereignty of Diaoyu Islands, as well as boost reform and opening-up.
Thus, given the constant stream of cohesion created by Chinese culture, the call of "Taiwan independence" by some island leaders is a blow to Chinese culture and an attempt to "de-Sinicize" the island, by falsifying middle-school history textbooks. This in turn has prompted the mainland to lay greater emphasis on Chinese culture as the leading factor in cross-Straits exchanges.
With economic development and growing national strength being critical factors in cross-Straits ties, the mainland can gain more advantages by taking initiatives to deepen cross-Straits exchanges in order to prevent the pro-independent ruling Democratic Progressive Party from creating more challenges for cross-Straits ties and making them more complicated.
Therefore, to increasingly improve the welfare of Taiwan compatriots should be the focus of the mainland, for example, by implementing the 31 preferential policies to attract more island residents to study, work and settle down on the mainland. After all, by creating more opportunities for communication, a community of shared future across the Straits could be further developed.
And since patriotism forms the core of the national spirit and grand unification accords with the concept of the nation, Chinese culture has a strong influence on Taiwan compatriots and will help unite them to safeguard national unity. Moreover, telling the mainland's story well could also help spread the mainland's contemporary culture across the Straits and win the support of Taiwan compatriots.
The author is the director of the research office at the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots.