Photo/IllutrationA “residential certificate” card for Taiwanese living in China (Provided by China News Service)

TAIPEI--Taipei has criticized Beijing for issuing “residential certificate” cards to Taiwanese living in China, saying the measure is aimed at erasing the Taiwan identity and moving toward unification.

Since September, China has issued the cards to more than 20,000 Taiwanese working or studying on the mainland for longer than six months.

The card features an 18-digit number, similar to the identification card issued to Chinese citizens.

Card holders can receive special treatment, such as permission to enter social insurance programs, use public facilities and receive financial services. Fingerprints are taken upon registration.

The card has been also issued to residents from Hong Kong and Macau.

But Taipei views the cards as problematic because they treat the Taiwanese as Chinese residents. Unlike Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province, Hong Kong and Macao are special administrative regions in China.

“The card makes the border between China and Taiwan ambiguous,” an official of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which is in charge of policies related to China, said on Sept. 13.

China currently allows young Taiwanese to take certification examinations in China and plans to offer scholarships.

Wang Zhin-sheng, an assistant professor at the Central Police University in Taiwan who specializes in China-Taiwan relations, said, “By offering special treatment, China aims to attract Taiwanese human resources and allow them to stay longer in the nation.”

An official at China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said there is nothing wrong with the cards.

“This is a step for Taiwanese to receive the same treatment (given to Chinese) by providing them with opportunities to develop on the mainland,” the official said.