Taiwan, China launch historic weekend charter flights

July 4th, 2008 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, July 4 (Xinhua) China and Taiwan launched their historic weekend charter flights with the first cross-Strait flight from mainland China landing at Taipei Taoyuan airport early Friday morning. More than 100 Chinese tourists aboard the Airbus A330 of China Southern Airlines (CSA) became the first group of people on a sight-seeing tour allowed to Taiwan amid warming cross-Strait ties.

The historic flight, which took off at 6:31 a.m. from Guangzhou, capital city of China’s southern Guangdong province, landed in Taipei at about 8:10 a.m. after a 1,124-km journey.

Another four weekend chartered flights also took off Friday morning from Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Xiamen.

A flight from Xiamen in China’s southeastern Fujian province arrived at the Songshan Airport in Taipei.

A total of 760 mainland tourists across the mainland are on the unprecedented journey to Taiwan and will stay there for 10 days.

In Beijing, a ceremony was held in the morning for the launching of the cross-Strait weekend charter flights as well as the mainland tourists visiting Taiwan.

Wang Yi, director of both the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China and the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said: “Friday marked a new beginning in the history of cross-Strait exchanges.”

Cross-Strait relations are facing a hard-won development opportunity, and direct contacts between the compatriots on both sides must be beefed up to enhance their mutual understanding and achieve new progress in the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties, he said.

The opening of weekend charter flights is part of President Ma Ying-jeou’s package to seek economic cooperation with China and reduce the risk of war.

Officials in both sides hope that the weekend charter flights can be expanded to regular daily flights across the Taiwan Strait.

Since the end of Chinese Civil War in 1949, Taiwan banned direct air, sea and trade links with mainland China and also banned the entry of Chinese people into Taiwan.

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