First direct flights from China are bound for Taiwan
For the first time in five decades, China and Taiwan started regular direct flights on Friday, signalling a new direction in relations between the long-time rivals, reported dpa.
A China Southern airlines plane departed from Guangzhou at 6:31 am with 100 tourists among the 258 passengers on board bound for Taipei where it landed at 8:10 am after a 1,124-kilometre flight.
Four other weekend chartered flights also took off Friday morning from Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Xiamen. Altogether, approximately 760 Chinese tourists are on their way for one-week visits in Taiwan.
The opening of weekend charter flights is part of President Ma Ying-jeou's package to seek economic cooperation with China and reduce the risk of war.
Ma hopes that the weekend charter flights can be expanded to daily flights and eventually to regular flights across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan, seat of the exiled Republic of China since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, has banned direct sea, air and trade links with China since 1949, and has banned Chinese mainlanders from entering Taiwan.
China has repeatedly called on Taiwan to drop the bans to pave the way for Taiwan's unification with the motherland.
But Ma, while supporting economic integration with China, has rejected China's call for unification, saying conditions are not ripe for discussing unification yet.