China, Taiwan Move to Ease Tensions, Boost Ties

Posted June 18th, 2012 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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China has announced new measures allowing Taiwanese to gain employment on the mainland, as Taiwan moves to complete the removal of tens of thousands of landmines planted in the 1950s on frontline islands near the Chinese coast.

Official Chinese media say the employment initiatives grant qualified Taiwan residents, including students who graduate from mainland colleges, equal competitive footing with mainland applicants for a range of jobs in industry and institutions. The China Daily newspaper did not report details, but said the measures are part of a pilot program in four key provinces.

Hours later in Taipei, President Ma Ying-jeou said all mines blanketing the shores of two Taiwan-controlled islands, Quemoy and Matsu, will be removed by the end of the year. The islands — just kilometers away from China's Xiamen province — were carpeted with explosive ordnance by nationalists after the two sides split in 1949, at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Mr. Ma announced the accelerated mine removal timetable while meeting with a special United Nations envoy heading the world body's push to end the production and use of anti-personnel mines.

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have eased dramatically since Mr. Ma took office four years ago.

Since then, the two governments have launched a host of trade and tourism initiatives, and all but eliminated the sharp, combative rhetoric used for decades by both sides in public exchanges. President Ma won a second four-year term in January.