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China, Taiwan establish air, sea and postal links

Working staff wave to the Shenzhen Airlines plane leaving for Taiwan in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, on Monday. Photo credit -- Xinhua

BEIJING (BNS): After six decades of isolation, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan have opened their air and sea links to each other.

The move came on Monday which is likely to bring the two sides closer.

“The realisation of direct links marked a breakthrough in relations,” Xu Shiquan, executive vice president of National Society of Taiwan Studies, was quoted as saying by Xinuha news agency. "It will greatly boost cross-strait trade and civilian exchanges," he said.

At 8.00 am local time, a China Eastern Airline jet left for Taipei from the Shangai Pudong International Airport. Taiwan's TransAsia Airways aircraft took off from Taipei minutes later for Shanghai, marking a new beginning in the ties between Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

A significant aspect of the new air link was to reduce travel time. The flight between China and Taiwan will become direct instead of a long de tour of flying over Hong Kong. Earlier, the journey from Shanghai would take 80 minutes, but now it will take less than an hour.

Chinese agencies quoted officials as saying that the start of direct flights would help in peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

Zhang Lizhong, the Mainland's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office Executive Deputy Director was quoted as saying: "Given the global financial crisis, cross-Straits direct flights started at exactly the right time. The link will help the mainland and Taiwan jointly overcome the current economic difficulty."

Professor Liu Guoshen of Xiamen University said direct links would help reduce business costs and improve competitiveness. "Given the current situation of global financial crisis and sagging world economy, the direct links will help the mainland and Taiwan stabilise their economies," he was quoted as saying.

The two sides will operate charter cargo flights between Pudong in Shanghai and Guangzhou airports. Taiwan's two other terminals – Taoyuan and Kaohsiung would also be connected.

They will also start a passenger charter flight on a regular basis. Earlier, the passenger service was restricted to weekends and four major festivals. These flights will operate from 16 terminals in mainland and eight in Taiwan. In all, there will be 108 flights in a week.

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