FUZHOU: The first combined passenger-cargo vessel left the Chinese mainland bound directly for Taiwan Monday morning.
The launching ceremony of combined passenger-cargo vessel "New Golden Bridge II" is held in Fuzhou, capital of southeast China's Fujian Province, July 13, 2009. [Xinhua]
It is the first such sailing after the mainland and Taiwan started direct air and sea transport and postal services last December, when sailings of passenger vessels and cargo vessels began.
The ship, "New Golden Bridge II", carrying 630 passengers, left Mawei, Fujian Province, at around 11 a.m. and is expected to reach Keelung, Taiwan in about ten hours.
Fujian Transport Group rented the vessel from a shipping company in eastern Shandong Province to run the line.
"The direct sailing of the passenger-cargo vessels will be great convenience to the exchange of passengers and cargo across the Taiwan Straits," said Liang Jianyong, vice mayor of Fuzhou City, capital of Fujian.
"Taiwan businessmen who have invested in the manufacturing industry in the mainland can directly bring parts to vessels," said Liang. "Taiwan's fruit growers and aquatic products dealers can carry agricultural products with them."
Zhuang Fuchi, president of the Enterprises Association in Fuzhou, said the convenience of cargo and passenger transport would also bring more opportunities to Taiwan services companies on the mainland.
Another route for passenger-cargo vessels from Xiamen, Fujian, to Kaohsiung of Taiwan will open in September, according to Ma Jilie, deputy director of the Fujian Transport Department.
Ma said the province would strive to realize regular operation of the passenger-cargo vessels by the end of this year.