07/04/2008, 00.00
TAIWAN – CHINA
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First ‘historic’ flight from China lands in Taiwan

The agreement between Beijing and Taipei on regular week-end flights breaks an isolation that lasted almost 60 years. The first Chinese tourists are warmly welcomed.
Taipei (AsiaNews) – The first 100 Chinese tourists landed today in Taoyuan International Airport in what is the first of regular flights as agreed to in a deal signed by Beijing and Taipei. This breaks an isolation that lasted almost 60 years.

The China Southern Airlines flight from Guangzhou was welcomed by fire trucks which shot water at the plane as a welcome gesture. Mainland passengers passed through an arch made of colourful balloons amid traditional dragon dances.

Four flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Xiamen are on the agenda for today.

A Xiamen Airlines plane with 109 Chinese tourists aboard landed at Taipei's Songshan Airport Friday, making it the first direct weekend cross-strait charter flight from China to arrive in Taipei City since the Sino-Taiwanese agreement.

Hitherto direct flights between China and Taiwan were allowed only during Chinese New Year. Now there will be regular flights every week-end.

A total of 790 mainland tourists are in Taiwan, traditionally called the “beautiful island.”

Taiwan's China Airlines also flew more than 300 Taiwanese on a charter flight to Shanghai earlier in the day.

Wang Yi, director of both the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said that Friday marked a new beginning in the history of cross-Strait exchanges.

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