15 Dec 2008

China, Taiwan to start direct air, post link

3:58 pm on 15 December 2008

China and Taiwan will begin direct air, sea transport and postal services on Monday for the first time since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949 and has vowed to bring the island under mainland rule, by force if necessary.

Ties have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou took office earlier this year. Talks were held in June and November.

Direct transport, postal services and trade were cut after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Under a direct air transport agreement, a cargo charter flight service will operate between two mainland terminals, Pudong in Shanghai and Guangzhou airports, and two Taiwan terminals, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung.

There will be 60 return cargo flights a month. In addition, there will be regular passenger charter flights. These used to take place only on weekends and the four major traditional festivals.

A direct flight from Taipei to Shanghai takes about 80 minutes, but it currently takes two hours and 42 minutes as planes must fly via Hong Kong under the current arrangements.