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China Focus: Internet spawns new possibilities for cross-Strait exchanges

(Xinhua)    21:22, September 22, 2020

XIAMEN, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Shirley Zeng attributes her award for outstanding culture-inspired creative products presented at the ongoing 12th Straits Forum to the dynamic virtual community created by the internet and social media platforms.

"The reason I'm here [at the awards ceremony] is the magic of the internet," said Zeng, an entrepreneur from Taiwan running a scented candle business in the mainland's Xiamen. Many of the forum's sideline activities are taking place in the eastern coastal city in Fujian Province.

As the COVID-19 epidemic has forced the cancellation of countless gatherings, the internet enables businesses to continue trading by transcending physical restrictions.

For Zeng, her fledgling business has overcome the period of limited offline transactions thanks to the internet where she has attracted many loyal customers.

Many Taiwan-funded start-ups and businesses also saw the opportunities spawned by the mainland's vast number of internet and social media users. "Product promotion via livestreaming alleviates sales pressure for many of our member companies," said Makiyo Wang, deputy secretary general of the Taiwan Cross Strait Exhibition Association, a trade association committed to helping businesses and products from Taiwan explore the mainland market.

In the hands of Yang Pin-hua, a young man from Taiwan, the online platforms become tools to tell friends and followers back in Taiwan the truth about the COVID-19 fight on the mainland. Yang, who is now running a music-themed bar in Beijing, set his camera lens on ordinary people and uploaded short videos about their lives during the peak of the epidemic. Their true stories are effective weapons to counter distorted media reports and misinformation about the mainland in Taiwan, he said.

Michael T.C. Hwang dubbed himself a "digital refugee" with self-deprecating humor. The octogenarian, nevertheless, has learned how to use the internet and is preparing to launch a non-profit online museum to promote Minnan culture, or Hokkien culture, among the younger generation in Taiwan. Minnan literally means "southern Fujian Province." Many ancient cultural heritages in this region are shared by people across the Strait.

Minnan culture is an integral part of Chinese culture, and many Taiwan residents are descendants of those from southern Fujian Province, Hwang said. "I hope the younger generation can develop a better understanding of the culture and remember where their roots are."

The eagerness of the younger generation on the mainland to understand their counterparts on the other side of Taiwan Strait is equally intense. Statistics showed that on the Quora-like knowledge-sharing platform Zhihu, the number of Taiwan-related hashtags has surpassed 100,000, and more than 300,000 users followed these topics.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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