The first non-stop flights from mainland China to Taiwan, since the two
sides split in civil war, left for the island Friday. The regular weekend
flights could bring as many as 3,000 mainland tourists per day to Taiwan. Daniel
Schearf reports from Beijing.
The morning flights took off from several major
Chinese cities for Taiwan. China's official Xinhua news agency said 760 mainland
tourists were on board and would stay in Taiwan for ten days of
China's state television offered live coverage of some of
In Beijing, a ceremony was held at the airport marking
the launch of the non-stop cross-Strait flights. Several Chinese officials spoke
at the ceremony and welcomed the improved transportation links.
is the director of China's Taiwan affairs office. He said the flights were a new
beginning in cross-Strait exchanges.
Wang says it does not matter how far
apart they are, or how long they have been cut off. He says they are from the
same descendants and they are all Chinese. He says their relatives are from the
same roots and their blood is thicker than water.
Taiwan split from China
after the communists won the nation's civil war in 1949. China has vowed to
reunite the island with the mainland, by force if necessary.
relations have warmed since the election of Taiwan's new President Ma Ying-jeou,
who favors closer relations with Beijing. Last month the political rivals signed
an agreement for the direct charter flights.
Previous flights between
mainland China and Taiwan had been limited to Chinese holidays and were forced
to stopover in Hong Kong or Macau.
The charter planes will still have to
fly over Hong Kong for security reasons, but the non-stop flights will save
hours of flight time.
The 36 flights per weekend also include Taiwan
carriers bringing tourists and businessmen to the mainland. Despite the lack of
direct flights, trade has flourished between the two sides.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and