China and Taiwan have begun direct air, sea and postal links. The move Monday
marks a historical milestone in cross-strait relations, after the two sides
split following a civil war nearly six decades ago.
Tensions have run high between China and Taiwan,
ever since the Nationalists fled to the island after losing a civil war to the
Communists in 1949.
China considers Taiwan part of its territory, and has
vowed to use force, if necessary, if the independently-governed island declares
On Monday, this conflict was overshadowed by what officials
on both sides refer to as the realization of the three links - direct flights,
direct shipping and direct postal service.
The head of China's Postal
Bureau, Ma Junsheng, spoke at a ceremony in Beijing.
Ma says compatriots
on both sides of the strait are linked by blood ties. He says he believes that
postal bureaus on both sides of the strait will work together and bring about a
Lin Feng-cheng, vice-chairman of Taiwan's Nationalist,
or Kuomintang, Party, also attended the ceremony.
Lin says having direct
links is a big accomplishment that will benefit compatriots on both sides of the
strait. The Taiwanese official acknowledges this has come late, but says it is
still to be treasured.
Following the civil war, all transport by air and
sea from Taiwan could only enter the Chinese mainland through a third place. But
under an agreement signed last month, China will open 63 ports and Taiwan will
open 11 harbors for direct cross-strait shipping. Also, there will be more than
100 weekly flights between the two sides.
The direct links reflect a
marked improvement in relations that began with swearing-in of Taiwanese
President Ma Ying-jeou. In sharp contrast to his predecessor, President Ma
favors tightening cross-strait economic ties and moving aggressively to reduce