The 15th Straits Forum held its first press conference on Thursday in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province. The forum, which aims to promote people-to-people exchanges between the Chinese mainland and the island of Taiwan, will receive delegates of multiple political parties from Taiwan, as well as representatives from fields including business, education, agriculture, religion, public health, culture, sci-tech and finance.
The forum will be the biggest cross-Straits exchange event after the three-year COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 5,000 Taiwan attendees, including more than 1,000 who come directly from the island, despite obstruction by the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities on the island. The rest 4,000 Taiwan delegates mostly work and live in the mainland at the moment according to information released at the conference.
Although the provocative US interference and secessionist attempts by the DPP authorities make the cross-Straits situation increasingly tense and dangerous, the mainland is still making utmost efforts to seek peaceful reunification with Taiwan, including offering more opportunities for employment, training and education for Taiwan youth, as well as sincerely promoting dialogue and cooperation with all political groups in the island that at least are not seeking secession.
Chen Zhiyong, deputy director of the Organizing Committee Office of Straits Forum and deputy director of the Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Office of Fujian Province, speaking at a press conference on the forum in Xiamen, said on Thursday that "the Straits Forum is a people-to-people exchange event that has been held for many years. It serves the common interests of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits and has been supported and welcomed by the majority of Taiwan compatriots."
"Regrettably, the DPP authorities have repeatedly obstructed and openly intimidated Taiwan civil organizations and Taiwan people who participated in the Straits Forum, arrogantly creating 'green terror.' The convening of the 15th Straits Forum has received a positive response from civil organizations and people in Taiwan, fully demonstrating that the DPP authorities cannot obstruct and suppress matters that conform to public opinion and win the hearts of the people," said Chen.
The forum will be attended by about 5,000 people from various sectors and political parties from Taiwan, including the Kuomintang (KMT), the New Party of Taiwan, the People First Party, Non-Partisan Solidarity Union and the Taiwan People's Party.
The KMT delegation will be led by Hsia Li-yan, vice-chairman of the KMT, the island's main opposition party, said Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of State Council, at a press conference on Wednesday.
The positive response among opposition parties within the island makes the DPP authorities feel anxious and pressured, as the DPP blames the mainland for "splitting Taiwan political parties," but experts said this exposed that it was the DPP that stands against the public will for exchanges and peace shared by the majority of Taiwan people and political groups, and it was the DPP that creates danger and undermines peace in cross-Straits relations.
Chen said that the forum, themed "Expanding People-to-people Exchange, Deepening Integrative Development," will arrange plenary sessions, and four major exchange themes of "grassroots, youth, culture and economy," with 51 activities in Xiamen and other cities in Fujian including Fuzhou, Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, Putian and Pingtan.
The forum will help provide more than 1,200 jobs and more than 1,000 intern and training positions to the youth of Taiwan, Chen told the media at the conference.
Song Luzheng, a cross-Straits affairs observer and scholar at the China Institute of Fudan University, told the Global Times on Thursday that to get more Taiwan youth to come to the mainland for work, start-ups and education is a significant way for the mainland to promote reunification, as this will further integrate the labor force in the island with the mainland's market, which is the biggest in the world and has great potential in the post-pandemic era.
According to Taiwan media, in 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than 2 million Taiwan people with permanent residence in the mainland, while the overall working-age population in Taiwan island stood at about 11 million
Song said "due to the impact of the pandemic and the DPP's vicious obstruction like setting up legal barriers and creating rumors and fake news to stigmatize the mainland and intimidate Taiwan people in recent years, it would not be easy for the mainland to recover people-to-people exchanges to the level before the pandemic.
"But due to the failed governance of the DPP that makes the Taiwan economy worse, as long as the mainland insists on its approach and successfully recovers its economy and realizes sustainable growth, more and more workers will eventually decide to leave the island and come to the mainland."
If about 5 million Taiwan working-age people become permanent residents in the mainland, the space for secessionist forces to seek separation of the island from China would disappear, and the mainland is being fully prepared for pushing reunification on multiple fronts, and it is also prepared for any possibilities, Song noted.