China to simplify entry rules for Taiwan visitors in latest appeal to island voters

China says it will make it even easier for Taiwanese to visit, in the latest appeal to voters ahead of crucial presidential elections on the island in January.

State media reports Monday say Taiwanese visitors will no longer have to apply for entry permits and their travel passes will be converted from passport-like documents to a computer readable card.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and doesn't recognize its passports.

China has sought to court the Taiwanese electorate with economic incentives such as market access for the island's agricultural goods and visits by free-spending Chinese tourists. However, many Taiwanese voters have balked at closer ties, fearing for the island's political independence and worried that the benefits go mainly to the rich and major corporations instead of the middle class.