Airline News - Asia / Pacific.



Historic regular flights between Taiwan and China began on Friday, in a show of conciliation between the long-time rivals that could bring large numbers of mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan. The first of the flights, a China Southern Airlines plane, landed at Taipei's Taoyuan airport after leaving Guangzhou in southern China early in the morning. It was followed a short time later by a flight from the southern city of Xiamen that arrived at Taipei's Songshan city airport. Flights from China will be leaving from a number of cities, including Shanghai.No such regular flights, aside from a few charters on select holidays, have flown since 1949, when defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan after the Chinese civil war. The flights are largely the work of new Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who took office in May on pledges to revitalize the island's economy with closer trade and transit ties to China. He has estimated that 50 million Chinese want to visit Taiwan. Since Ma took office, his government has introduced a raft of other reforms as well, many designed to make it easier for Taiwanese to invest in China's financial and other markets. 7/4/2008

The recent cross-Strait detente contrasts sharply with the tension of only 11 years ago when missiles were splashing into the Taiwan Strait. The flights represent the first of a step-by-step approach to improve ties but trickier issues remain, such as a peace treaty and the hundreds of missiles Taiwan says China has aimed at the island. China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan and has vowed to bring the island under its rule. For the moment, though, both sides...

To continue reading