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Three ordinary Taiwan locals who made new lives across the Strait

2021-12-13 09:21:00 Source:Xinhua Author:
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Though China's complete reunification is yet to be achieved, the ties between people across the Taiwan Strait run deep.

This can be felt more strongly in the eastern province of Fujian, which is close to Taiwan in terms of geography, culture and ancestral ties.

Over the weekend, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and obstruction from Taiwan authorities, the 13th Straits Forum held here attracted thousands of Taiwan compatriots to attend its offline activities, with many more participating online.


Photo taken on Dec. 11, 2021 shows the 13th Straits Forum in Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province. (Xinhua/Jiang Kehong) 

Fujian has seen generations of compatriots from across the Strait settle down and call the mainland home.

Xinhua reporters met with three Taiwan compatriots who shared their stories of settling down in Fujian, offering a glimpse of the life choices of hundreds of thousands of Taiwan compatriots who work and live on this side of the Strait.


A performance is staged during the 13th Straits Forum in Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province, Dec. 11, 2021. (Xinhua/Lin Shanchuan) 


In the county of Lianjiang lies a prime golf course surrounded by lush mountains and murmuring streams. Its owner, 58-year-old Chiang Pei-Chi, is still struck by a feeling of disbelief recalling how her father transformed a marshland into a popular golf course.

In 1992, Chiang made her first trip to her ancestral home in Lianjiang with her father, a businessman from Taiwan who planned to seize the opportunities of the reform and opening up and start his own business on the mainland.

Chiang was left befuddled and unsure where to start when she was led to a patch of marshland.

"There was nothing else," she recalled. Chiang said she was shocked when her father told her they were going to build a golf course.

"The whole project took six years, during which a small hill had to be removed, and a dike extending 3.3 km long was built," Chiang said.

Chiang likens her father to the foolish old man, or Yugong, a figure from an ancient Chinese legend who was determined to lead his family to remove the mountains that blocked their way in and out of their home, shovel by shovel.


Video grab shows Chiang Pei-Chi taking a walk in her golf course in Lianjiang County of Fuzhou, east China's Fujian Province, Dec. 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Chen Wang) 

"I am the daughter of a foolish old man, but what's more, I am the daughter of Lianjiang." Years later, Chiang came to understand the reason behind her father's feat.

Chiang said her father was born in Lianjiang, and he knew very well that if there was no dike, places like Gui'an and Taoyuan villages would be flooded every year.

"Just a while ago, when it rained heavily, waterlogging can be seen in many places. At that time, I was looking at the course of the Aojiang River, when I suddenly realized that we were defending our homeland."

In 2010, she began to take over the golf course. "In the future, we plan to build a medical tourism destination, integrating development on both sides of the Strait through industries," she said.

Yet economic opportunity is not the only point of consideration for people like Chiang. "My father came back to the mainland because he believed he was rooted here. He wanted to leave a beautiful garden for his hometown. From this perspective, what he did is valuable," she said.


The mainland welcomes and supports individuals and enterprises from Taiwan to pursue better development across the Strait.

Kao Chia Chun, a middled-aged teacher of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), recalled how he personally benefited from this welcoming approach.


Kao Chia-Chun gives a lecture at the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Fuzhou, east China's Fujian Province, Dec. 8, 2021. (Xinhua/Chen Wang) 

During his pursuit of higher education on the mainland between 1997 and 2007, Kao witnessed the rapid development taking place there, particularly after the accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. He decided to land a job in Fujian after graduation.

In 2009, Fujian rolled out a policy that gave equal job opportunities to Taiwan students graduating from mainland higher education institutions as their mainland counterparts.

It was that in very year that Kao was employed by the Fujian University of TCM, becoming the first Taiwan compatriot employed by a public institute on the mainland.

Kao enjoys the same treatment in salary and benefits as his mainland colleagues, including coverage by the national social security scheme and the housing provident fund.

The sense of belonging once again reassured Kao that his decision to settle down on the mainland was the right one. "I feel that I am treated as one of them. We are all children of the motherland," he said.

After China grew to be the world's second largest economy, more and more young people from Taiwan made the same choice as Kao. There were over 12,000 Taiwan students studying in mainland universities in 2019, roughly doubling the figure 10 years ago.

Kao is now committed to revitalizing TCM and deepening TCM exchanges across the Strait. "I established my career here, and my life value lies here."


The rural life on the outskirts of Xiamen often reminds Wu Ping-Chang of his childhood when he grew up in a village in Taiwan.

"The climate and lifestyle, and even people's dialect are similar, and I enjoy staying here," said Wu.

Wu crossed the Strait to begin a career in 2018, at first dabbling in catering. Although affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, he was still reluctant to leave.

Inspired by the booming sector of new media, it occurred to Wu that he could use the internet to show the wider public the villages he knew so well, doing his bit to boost rural vitalization.


Video grab shows Wu Ping-Chang (2nd L) talking with his partners at a cross-strait youth entrepreneurship base in Jimei District of Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province, Dec. 9, 2021. (Xinhua/Chen Wang) 

In April this year, he and his partner began to produce short videos spotting traditional local culture. They have attracted about 5,000 followers on various social platforms including WeChat, Facebook and Twitter, with contents ranging from traditional food, villages' history, local customs, and songs about rural life.

They have been approached by other villagers for activities related to rural vitalization.

In 2021, building on the elimination of extreme poverty in rural areas, the mainland authorities are placing more emphasis on a strategy to modernize the vast countryside, or the rural vitalization drive.

With the boom of digital industries, young people from Taiwan are also exploring innovative ways to pursue and fulfill their dreams on the mainland.

"In my eyes, culture and talent are as important as infrastructure to rural vitalization," Wu said, adding that his team is pondering a new project to promote traditional rural culture through livestreaming.

Wu's team has attracted more and more college students to join in and play their part in rural vitalization. "This is just a starting point," said Wu. "We hope to go beyond and spur more villages in rural development in the future."

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