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Mainland, Taiwan agree on weekend chartered flights
Updated: 2008-11-03 15:11

Two new agreements have been signed between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan island. One agreement opens the way for weekend cross-Straits chartered flights and the other allows mainland tourists to travel to Taiwan.

Chen Yunlin (R), chairman of Chinese mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), and Chiang Pin-kun, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), shake hands after signing the agreements on cross-Strait weekend charted flights and mainland tourists' traveling to Taiwan, in Beijing, China, June 13, 2008.(Xinhua Photo)

Chen Yunlin (R), chairman of Chinese mainland's Association 
for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), and Chiang 
Pin-kun, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange 
Foundation (SEF), shake hands after signing the agreements 
on cross-Strait weekend charted flights and mainland 
tourists' traveling to Taiwan, in Beijing, China, June 13, 
2008. [Xinhua]

The agreements are widely regarded as a major development from talks between the mainland-based Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation. They will take effect 7 days from the date of the signing of the documents.

The Chairman of the mainland-based Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits, Chen Yunlin and the Chairman of Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation,Chiang Pin-kun signed the agreements on Friday morning at the Diaoyutai State Guest house.

Senior officials from the two associations attended the signing ceremony. After signing the agreements, the chairmen took group photos with the two delegations and celebrated with champagne.

Chen Yunlin, chairman of Chinese mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), and Chiang Pin-kun, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) sign the agreements on cross-Strait weekend charted flights and mainland tourists' traveling to Taiwan, in Beijing, China, June 13, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

Chen Yunlin, chairman of Chinese mainland's Association for 
Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), and Chiang Pin-kun, 
chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF)
sign the agreements on cross-Strait weekend charted flights 
and mainland tourists' traveling to Taiwan, in Beijing, China, 
June 13, 2008. [Xinhua]

Under the agreement, the inaugural mainland tourist group will arrive in Taiwan on July 18th. The two sides set a quota for the number of tourists in line with Taiwan's accommodation capacity. But there's flexibility to adjust this number next year. At this stage, a maximum of 3,000 mainland tourists can travel to Taiwan every day. Currently, only groups of 10 to 40 tourists are allowed to travel to Taiwan and stay on the island for a maximum of 10 days for each group.

Meanwhile, the inaugural weekend cross-strait chartered flight services are scheduled to start on July 4th. For then on, 36 return flights will be arranged for every weekend, from Friday to Monday. And this number will increase according to demand. Mainland and Taiwan airliners will both operate 18 flights.

Five mainland cities have been designated as the first group of terminals for the chartered flights. They are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Nanjing. And Taiwan will have eight terminals. But the chartered flights still have to transfer via Hong Kong. But the two sides have agree to begin consultations to open direct flights across the Straits soon. And 3 months after launching the operation of the chartered flights, the two sides will begin consultations about opening similar chartered cargo flights.

Chen Yunlin (R), chairman of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and Chiang Pin-kun, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) walk into the aseembly hall to attend a signing ceremony in Beijing, capital of China, June 13, 2008.(Xinhua Photo)


Chen Yunlin (R), chairman of the mainland's 
Association for Relations Across the Taiwan 
Strait (ARATS) and Chiang Pin-kun, chairman 
of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange 
Foundation (SEF) walk into the aseembly hall 
to attend a signing ceremony in Beijing, 
capital of China, June 13, 2008. [Xinhua]

Sun Yafu, vice chairman of Association for Relations Across Taiwan Straits, said, "The resumption of talks between the two associations and the signing of the two agreements that will benefit people on both sides of the Straits are of great significance for the development of cross-Straits ties. Without the favorable change in the current state of Cross-Strait ties and the ensuing historic opportunity such achievements couldn't be reached. It's also the result of the concerted efforts of people on both sides of the Straits."

The agreements are regarded as an important breakthrough in talks between the two associations. The current talks were the first of their kind in 9 years. Both sides agree to continue close consultations to further strengthen cross-Strait exchanges and cooperation.