A military band plays the national anthem during the closing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Friday, March 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Premier: China will offer Taiwan 'preferential policies'

March 15, 2019 - 1:01 am

BEIJING (AP) — China will introduce more "preferential policies" for Taiwan to allow the self-governed island's residents to enjoy the same treatment as mainland Chinese citizens, the premier said Friday.

Speaking at a press conference, Premier Li Keqiang said new initiatives will be implemented to invite people from Taiwan to "work hand-in-hand to realize our shared dream for the nation."

China has used increasingly aggressive rhetoric toward Taiwan, which split from the mainland amid a civil war in 1949.

The ruling Communist Party maintains that Taiwan is part of China. It opposes Taiwan independence and says it seeks a "peaceful reunification."

President Xi Jinping did not rule out the use of force during a January speech on cross-strait relations, in which he proposed a "one country, two systems" approach akin to China's current arrangement with the former British colony of Hong Kong.

The suggestion was rejected by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who said China must accept the existence of the Republic of Taiwan.

Last year, China introduced "31 Measures" aiming to woo Taiwan residents. Li said Friday that even more policies should be offered.

"When people on both sides of the strait enjoy the same development opportunities," he said, "they will become closer and closer."

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