○ A growing number of Taiwan youth come to the Chinese mainland to study or start up businesses as the mainland offers more favorable policies and better environment
○ Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said during his work report to the 19th CPC National Congress that more fair and attractive policies will be issued to people from Taiwan
With the sustainable economic growth of the Chinese mainland and disappointing governance within Taiwan, the number of Taiwanese youth who have decided to come to the Chinese mainland for their education or career continues to surge.
"Among the youth of Taiwan, people who acknowledged the Chinese mainland's development are the silent majority. They will not go to the street and shout radical political slogans, but just quietly express their opinions through actions," said Zheng Boyu, 31, from Taiwan.
Zheng, now based in Beijing, is the manager of Vstartup Station of Taiwan, a subsidiary to Shougang Group, which focuses on helping Taiwanese youth apply to the Chinese mainland universities, obtain internship opportunities here or start up their own business.
According to Taiwan media reports along with the results of Taiwan's 2016 elections, on the surface it may seem like many Taiwanese youth are hostile toward the Chinese mainland and support the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). But, as Zheng told the Global Times, "the facts tell a very different story."
"One year ago, there was maybe only one call from Taiwan every two or three months asking about applying to mainland universities. But now, I receive several calls every week," said Zheng, who claims to have assisted "thousands" of Taiwanese youth enroll in schools here or start their own businesses.
Due to Taiwan's disappointing economic situation, which the DPP has failed to correct, Zheng told the Global Times that many Taiwanese youth no longer feel that the island can offer them a suitable educational, working or living environment. So they are turning to the Chinese mainland in droves, where education, employment and business opportunities implemented under the policies of the mainland government are far more effective and attractive.
Taiwan's GDP growth (1.8-2 percent) is far slower than most provinces in the mainland (higher than 6-7 percent in average). There are also nine municipalities and provinces in the mainland with higher GDP per capita than all of Taiwan, including Beijing, Shanghai,Guangdong, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces, according to statistics reported by news portal guancha.cn.
"The mainland is now taking a different approach to handle the new DPP administration," said Yu Qiang, an associate professor on Taiwan studies at the University of International Relations. "In short, Beijing is now much tougher about opposing separatist administrations while being much more generous to ordinary Taiwanese people."
"DPP always tells Taiwanese people that the Chinese mainland is hostile to Taiwan because of 'military deterrence' and diplomatic isolation in the international arena. But it failed to do so when the mainland offers more benefits and conveniences to individuals directly," Yu said.
A series of attractive new policies issued by the Chinese mainland in 2017 have already started to take effect, including issuing scholarships specifically for Taiwanese students.
Luo Dingjun, a PhD student at the School of Policy and Public Management of Tsinghua University, is applying for one of these new "special scholarships" issued by China's education ministry and finance ministry in 2017.
"In the past, we needed to compete with students from Hong Kong and Macao who were also applying for mainland-based universities. But now scholarships for Taiwan students are separate, so the competition is only between us, which makes the possibility of winning the scholarship much higher," Luo told the Global Times.
"It is very obvious that policies towards Taiwan are getting much more generous," Luo said.
According to official data from China's finance ministry, the highest scholarship now being offered to Taiwanese students is for PhD students at 30,000 yuan (,535) per year; other scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students range from 4,000 to 15,000 yuan.
These amounts are much higher than last year. According to 2016 data, the highest scholarship for Taiwanese students issued by the Chinese mainland was only 8000 to 9,000 yuan, and students from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan all had to compete against each other.