China says 3,000 Chinese tourists a day will
be allowed to travel to Taiwan, a long-estranged island Beijing considers part
of Chinese territory. The visits will be possible once the two sides implement
regular, direct flights, weekend, next month. Stephanie Ho reports from
China and Taiwan have been rivals for
decades - ever since the Chinese Nationalists fled to the island after losing a
civil war to the Communists in 1949.
In recent years, China has
threatened to use force, if necessary, to prevent Taiwan from declaring
Following the March election of a Taiwanese president
Beijing perceives as less independence-minded than his predecessor,
cross-Straits relations improved quickly.
One concrete indication of
better ties is an agreement both sides, signed earlier this month, for regular
direct, flights between five mainland Chinese cities and Taiwan. The weekend
flights start July 4.
The Chinese government's Taiwan Affairs Office
spokeswoman, Fan Liqing, says there will be ceremonies to mark the first time in
modern history mainland Chinese tour groups visit the island.
such ceremonies will be held in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xiamen, which
have all hosted cross-Straits flights before, during major Chinese holidays. In
Nanjing, there also will be ceremonies marking the first time ever for that city
to host direct flights to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, other improvements in
bilateral relations include the return of China's main state-run news agency,
Xinhua, to Taiwan, after a three-year hiatus. Under the new agreement, Xinhua
reporters can stay on the island for three months, not just one month, as had
been the case, previously.
The Chinese spokeswoman also discussed the
status of two pandas China has offered to Taiwan as a goodwill gesture.
Fan says Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were transferred to a different area of
China's main panda breeding center, following a massive earthquake that struck
She says they have adapted to their new environment and are in
She says the two pandas can be delivered to the island
in November or December.