Taiwanese dancers
© AP Photo / Chiang Ying-ying
Over 22,000 Taiwanese have applied for residence permits on the Chinese mainland, according to Beijing. Speaking to Sputnik, Jiang Dongliu, an analyst at the Charhar Foundation, explained what was behind Beijing's initiative to stretch out a hand to the Taiwanese and why Taipei is up in arms about this.

It will be harder now for Taipei to convince the Taiwanese of China's hostile attitude toward them after Beijing granted the inhabitants of the island nation an "equal status" vis-à-vis mainlanders, Jiang Dongliu, an analyst at the Charhar Foundation, told Sputnik China.

On September 13, An Fengshan, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, announced that over 22,000 Taiwan residents had requested residence permits in the Chinese mainland.

"The purpose of issuing residence permits for Taiwanese civilians is to facilitate their education, work and life on the mainland," Jiang explained. "This is an important step aimed at sharing development opportunities with compatriots from Taiwan, giving them an 'equal status.'"

The Chinese scholar pointed out that Qiu Chui, a representative of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), had earlier admitted that obtaining such a status did not contradict Taiwanese law. And still, Taipei has labeled this initiative a threat to Taiwan's security, Jiang highlighted.

In mid-August, MAC denounced the Chinese mainland residence permit as "part of a ploy by China to bring Taiwan into its political fold," saying that it posed a risk to the personal privacy of the Taiwanese people, the Focus Taiwan online newspaper reported on August 16, 2018.

According to the Chinese scholar, this stance might have been prompted by concerns that "the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) efforts to demonize the continent could be exposed."

"Taiwanese people coming to the mainland... can stay longer on the mainland," he explained. "They will be able to get a better idea of the policy of the authorities of the People's Republic of China towards their Taiwanese compatriots; they will be able to more thoroughly and systematically study the situation on the mainland. All this disrupts the plans of the Taiwan administration to besmirch the continent, because the facts speak for themselves."

Having said that the efforts to isolate Taiwan from the mainland have no prospects, Jiang opined that Taipei still rejects to recognize the 1992 consensus.

The 1992 Consensus, also known as the One China Consensus, stipulates that there is only one China, although there are de facto two entities: the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Meanwhile, Beijing's initiative with regard to the Taiwanese has already proven effective, according to the Chinese scholar.

"Beijing creates conditions for Taiwan compatriots so that they can more comfortably study, work and live on the mainland," he noted. "This means that Taiwanese compatriots use opportunities for development on the mainland, while the Taiwan administration intends to resist this."

This indicates that the ruling DPP does not mean well, Jiang believes. He stressed that although the country's President Tsai Ing-wen had vowed to take counter-measures to Beijing's actions, in fact she does not have any cards up her sleeve.

"Regardless of what tools will be used by Taipei, Beijing can ignore them," the Chinese analyst said. "If, in response, measures are introduced to limit exchanges between the two shores of the Taiwan Strait, this will eventually backfire on the people of Taiwan."

However, the main reason of Taipei's discontent is an overall increase in tensions between China and Taiwan. Taiwan's global reach is shrinking. Over the last two years, five nations have turned their backs on Taipei and established diplomatic relations with Beijing: Sao Tome and Principe (December 2016), Panama (June 2017), the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso (May 2018). Finally, in August, El Salvador severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan and embraced cooperation with China.