Mainland authorities have announced plans to remove entry permit requirements for Taiwan nationals, a member of the country’s highest ruling body announced Sunday.
According to state media reports, Politburo Standing Committee member Yu Zhengsheng announced the plan during a speech at the seventh annual Straits Forum in Xiamen, Fujian.
Since Beijing does not consider the Republic of China passport a valid travel document, ROC nationals are currently required to apply for the Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents, a passport-like document issued by the Ministry of Public Security.
According to Yu, this permit will be reduced to a single identification card akin to the Home Return Permit used by Hong Kong residents traveling to the mainland.
In Taiwan the move has been seen as an inducement ahead of the 2016 presidential election, which polls indicate pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen is currently poised to win.
Warning that the move constituted a trend toward the “Hongkongisation” of the island democracy, DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai told the Liberty Times that Taipei should reject the proposal.
Only by recognising each other’s respective passports, Chen said, could cross-Strait travel be made more convenient whilst also preventing Chinese domination.
The proposed reforms, if realised, would be the first major overhaul since 1987, when ROC president Chiang Ching-kuo first lifted the mutual travel ban across the Taiwan Strait.