The expansion of oil exploration and drilling in the South China Sea has raised the stakes in the various territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, particularly the Philippines.
Breaking six decades of tension, China hopes allowing solo travelers to Taiwan will advance its goal of political unification, while Taiwanese see the prospect as a boon to the economy.
As part of a China energy crackdown to meet efficiency targets, leaders are directing 2,000 factories to close. But it appears many of the locales have already been shuttered.
The latest China-Taiwan trade deal, signed Tuesday, avoided discussing sensitive political relations but signaled much closer cooperation between the longtime rivals.
Beijing's envoy will also discuss financial links and present pandas in historic visit.