China, Taiwan launch direct flights

July 4th, 2008 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 4 (Xinhua) China and Taiwan Friday launched their direct flights across the Strait of Taiwan for the first time in fifty years, signalling improving relations. The cross-Strait weekend charter flight from mainland China landed at Taiwan’s Taoyun Airport early Friday with 258 passengers including tourists and business delegations.

The historic flight by China Southern Airlines (CSA) took off from Guangzhou, capital city of the southern province of Guangdong.

Following suit was a flight from Xiamen in the eastern province of Fujian with 203 people on board which arrived at the Songshan airport of Taipei.

Some 760 Chinese mainland tourists from Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen and Guangzhou took the charter flights to Taiwan, three weeks after the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation met last month.

DPA added: Taiwan also launched nine charter flights bound for China, carrying tourists, businessmen and an “inaugural delegation” consisting of local officials to China.

In Beijing, a ceremony was held prior to the departure of the cross-Strait weekend charter flights and China’s CCTV aired a special cross-strait charter flight programme to give live coverage of the launch of the charter flights and invited scholars to discuss Taipei-Beijing ties.

In Taiwan, the Tourism Bureau welcomed Chinese tourists at various airports with flowers, lion dances and firecrackers.

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