Direct Straits shipping urged
( 2003-12-18 00:14) (China Daily)
The Ministry of Communications yesterday urged Taiwan to take pragmatic and rapid steps towards direct shipping links across the Taiwan Straits.
In a written statement, the ministry said the mainland is prepared, both legally and technically, to open cross-Straits sea links.
The call was part of fresh efforts by Chinese mainland to establish direct transportation, trade and postal services to Taiwan.
On Wednesday, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council published its first document on the policy on the three direct links, which has been subject to a decades-old ban by Taipei.
The policy paper, entitled "Actively and Realistically Promote `Three Direct Links' Across the Taiwan Straits by Reliance on the People and in the Interests of the People'', enunciates Beijing's stance and policy on the three links and related issues.
The statement from the Ministry of Communications said the mainland has implemented seven laws and regulations to manage cross-Straits sea links.
Shipping industries from Taiwan and the mainland have held five seminars to work out technical solutions to problems concerning cross-Straits sea links, the policy explains.
In early 1997, the mainland and Taiwan opened direct shipping services on a trial basis between Fuzhou and Xiamen in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian and Taiwan's Kaohisung.
By October this year, more than 2.6 million standard containers had been transported by six mainland shipping companies and four Taiwanese counterparts, the statement says.
At the same time, 13 routes through indirect shipping links via Hong Kong and Macao, for example, are serviced by 11 shipping firms from across the Straits. Those routes have been in place since February 1998 between nine ports on the mainland and four ports in Taiwan.
Incomplete statistics suggest some 2 million cargo containers have been ferried.
The Ministry of Communications said direct sea links between Fujian and the Taiwan islands of Jinmen and Mazu were allowed in early 2001 to benefit travel and business of Taiwan compatriots.
At present, 20 cargo ships and five passenger vessels are run on shipping routes between coastal cities of Fujian and Jinmen and Mazu.
So far, Taiwan shipping companies have established seven business branches and 37 representative offices on the mainland.
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