Taiwan residents look forward to enjoying fast track

Residents from Taiwan granted residence permits after government changes policy.
Dong Jun / SHINE

Taiwan residents living in Shanghai display their residence cards issued yesterday.

“It’s a historic moment for everyone from Taiwan who lives in Shanghai,” said Lee Mao-Sheng after he became the first Taiwanese recipient of a five-year Shanghai residence card.

“I’m excited to receive the first card. I have been longing for one for years,” said the 78-year-old factory owner.

The central government began accepting applications for residence permits for people from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau on September 1.

The card entitles them to the same basic public services as mainlanders, including education, health care, legal aid, social security and housing. The city’s first batch of 30 cards were issued yesterday morning.

The card will also make their lives easier in transportation, finance and entertainment. Things like buying tickets for trains and flights, parks and museums, and applying for a driving license will all be easier.

Lee came to Shanghai in 1994 when costs were too high for his factory to survive in Taiwan. Now his company is one of the world’s leading producers of plastic gloves.

“I would have had to close my factory if I had stayed in Taiwan at that time. I am lucky that I made the decision 24 years ago to come and invest in Shanghai,” Lee said. “My company has grown alongside the economies of Shanghai and the mainland as a whole.”

While sharing the economic opportunities, Lee and other Taiwan residents found their lives were more complicated than local people’s, especially after the rise of the Internet.

Dong Jun / SHINE

Lee Mao-Sheng, 78, displays his new residence permit yesterday. He is the first recipient in the city of the new cards for Taiwan residents.

Lee gave the example of buying railway tickets.

“We had to line up in front of service windows to pick up train tickets while mainlanders got their tickets quickly from self-service machines or even scanned their ID cards and boarded the trains directly,” he said.

Taiwan compatriots travel permit numbers only have eight digits. The digital ticket system requires 18 digits, as on mainlanders’ ID cards. The same story applied to many other public services.

Lee and some other businessmen from Taiwan complained to local authorities several years ago. Things began to change in August, when it was announced that those who had stable jobs and accommodation, or who were attending schools or otherwise living on the mainland for more than six months could apply for a residence card with 18 numbers.

Lee said he began to prepare the required materials immediately on hearing the news. He rushed to the police station in Jinshan District, where he lives, early in the morning of September 1, the first day for applications.

“Now, I’m so happy to hold the card in my hand,” he said. “The first thing I will do is to buy a high-speed train ticket to Beijing for a business trip. I’m looking forward to enjoying the fast track for the first time.”

“And also, I’m now able to stay in any hotel, like local people,” he added.

“The residence card will make our life on the mainland more convenient and the policy will attract young people from Taiwan to the mainland for work, study and startups.”

Lee said nearly 20 employees from Taiwan at his company had applied for the card, while his wife and children would come to Shanghai to submit their applications soon.

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