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China Calls on Rival Taiwan to Make Further Concessions

China's communist leaders are calling on rival Taiwan to open more channels of communication and trade with the mainland.

It has been a year of unprecedented overtures between Beijing and Taiwan, with nonstop flights across the Taiwan Strait in March, a series of visits by Taiwanese opposition leaders to the mainland in the past few months, and new commercial agreements that include the mainland's importation of Taiwanese produce.

The overtures have come after tensions rose earlier in the year when China passed an anti-secession law authorizing military force against the island if it moves toward formal independence. The Communist Party leadership regards the self-ruled island as Chinese territory and has threatened to reclaim it by force.

In light of this threat, Taiwan restricts transportation and trade links with the mainland.

On Wednesday, Li Weiyi, a spokesman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, called on the island's leadership to ease those restrictions, claiming it is in the interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

He says China hopes Taiwan will change what he calls its negative and resistant attitude toward more open communication across the Taiwan Strait.

Analysts have described Beijing's overtures this year as attempts by the communist leadership to undermine Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who was re-elected last year on a pro-independence platform.

Beijing passed the anti-secession legislation in part because of concerns over Mr. Chen's pledge to push for a new Taiwanese constitution, which communist leaders interpreted as a move toward independence.

The United States, which has committed to help Taiwan defend itself against an attack by the mainland, has called on both sides to avoid taking steps that would change the status quo.

In a gesture of its own on Wednesday, Taiwan officials said residents and mainland visitors to two islands under Taipei's control will be able to exchange the Taiwan dollar for China's yuan. The islands, Kinmen and Matsu lie very close to mainland China but have been governed by Taiwan since it split from Beijing's rule in 1949. Until now, the mainland's currency could not be converted in Taiwan.