SHANGHAI: Chen Chu, mayor of Kaohsiung and a senior figure in Taiwan's main opposition party, finished her mainland tour in Shanghai by promoting a knowledge exchange between the two cities' ports.
Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng (R) meets with his Kaohsiung counterpart Chen Chu in Shanghai Saturday May 23, 2009. [Xinhua]
Chen, the highest ranked official of the Democratic Progressive Party to visit the mainland, saw the Yangshan Deepwater Port yesterday before heading home from the city's Pudong International Airport.
"The ports at Yangshan and Kaohsiung have different environments and functions, and can co-operate in the future," she said. "Kaohsiung government will act accordingly to support."
Impressed by the size of the facility, Chen said Kaohsiung port, which has dropped from being the third largest container port in the world to the 12th, would learn a lot from Yangshan port.
Direct shipping between Yangshan and Kaohsiung started on Dec 14 last year but the amount of cargo being handled is still less than expected, although it has increased in the last two months as businesses start to recover from the economic downtown, said Lee Yung-Te, vice-mayor of Kaohsiung.
On Saturday, Chen gave Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng an invitation to the upcoming 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung in July, while Han invited Chen to the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.
Chartered direct flights between Shanghai and Kaohsiung began last year and Han said it had "brought our two cities closer".
Tickets for the opening ceremony of the games, which will be Taiwan's largest international sporting event, are already sold out, while vendors have sold 70 percent for the closing ceremony.
Ted Lin, general manager of the city's Grand Hi-Lai Hotel, said it was almost fully booked during the games, and added: "At least 30 percent of the guests will be tourists from the mainland."
On Saturday he appealed for more tours to be arranged to Kaohsiung because "tourists only see half of Taiwan if they don't come to Kaohsiung".
An eight-day tour from Shanghai to Taiwan costs around 5,000 yuan ($730). However, visitor numbers to the island have fallen this month due the outbreak of the A(H1N1) influenza.