Taiwan allows local officials to visit China

Other News Materials 3 July 2008 12:45 (UTC +04:00)

Taiwan, in its latest move to ease tensions with China, on Thursday removed the ban on local officials' visiting the mainland, reported dpa.

The ban was removed in line with the pro-China policy of the new president, Ma Ying-jeou, who is calling for more exchanges with China to seek cross-strait peace.

From now on, city mayors and county magistrates can visit China for city- and county-related exchanges, if they submit applications one week before the trip.

Currently city mayors and magistrates can only go to China to attend international conferences, and must submit application for the trip to the National Immigration Agency three weeks in advance.

Also on Thursday, Taiwan eased its ban on Taiwan funds investing in Hong Kong/Macau and Chinese stock markets.

The cabinet removed the 10 per cent ceiling on Taiwan funds' investment in China-related shares on Hong Kong/Macau stock markets, and raised the 0.4 per cent ceiling on investment in China's stock market to 10 per cent.

The move is for the liberalization of Taiwan's financial market, the cabinet said.

Taiwan and China have been split since 1949, when the Republic of China government lost the Chinese Civil War and fled to Taiwan to set up its government-in-exile.

In 1987, as cross-strait tension eased, Taiwan allowed its residents to visit China for family reunions, sightseeing and trade, but still bans officials from visiting China unless with approval from the Mainland Affairs Council, which sets policies toward China.

Taiwan still bans direct air and sea links with China, but these bans are expected to be dropped gradually.

Under President Ma's instruction, Taiwan and China on Friday will launch weekend charter flights, which will be expanded to daily charter flights and eventually to regular passenger flights.

Some 800 Chinese tourists will arrive on the charter flights as the "inaugural tourist group" which includes dozens of Chinese tourism officials and reporters.