July 5, 2008

Chinese Officials Hail Launch of Weekend Cross-Strait Flights 4 Jul

Text of report by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)

[By reporters Chen Binhua and Mao Leilei: "Weekend Chartered Flights and Mainland Citizens' Travel to Taiwan Start"]

Beijing, 4 Jul (Xinhua) - A ceremony to start cross-Strait weekend chartered flights and mainland citizens' travel to Taiwan was held at the Beijing International Airport on the morning of 4 July. Wang Yi, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the CPC Central Committee and State Council, pointed out that today is an important day worthy of commemoration in the history of cross- Strait relations and it is a new starting point in the history of exchanges between compatriots on both sides of the Strait.

Wang Yi said at the ceremony: Cross-Strait relations are facing a hard-earned development opportunity. To open up a new situation for the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, we should first of all further strengthen direct exchanges between compatriots on both sides of the Strait and increase mutual understanding and feeling. The first batch of mainland tourists came from different provinces and cities and have different experiences, but they cherish a common aspiration, namely, to bring mainland compatriots' kinfolk feeling to Taiwan. We believe that Taiwan compatriots will warmly welcome them with open arms. This is because no matter how far we are separated and how long the estrangement is, we are the descendants of Emperors Yan and Huang, and compatriots on both sides of the Strait belong to the Chinese nation and are of the same root. Blood is thicker than water.

Wang Yi used Li Bai's poem to express his feeling, which reads "I will mount a long wind some day and break the heavy waves, and set my cloudy sail straight and bridge the deep, deep sea." He thanked personages in various circles on both sides of the Strait for their painstaking efforts in this respect.

China Civil Aviation Administration [CAAC] Deputy Director Yang Guoqing said that there are no technical problems with cross-Strait direct air flight services. As long as both sides uphold the spirit of equal consultations, goodwill communications, aggregate consensus, and pragmatic progression, they will be able to move ahead in an orderly manner, gradually expand services, and create a win-win situation. With the establishment of direct flights and the opening of more flight destinations between both sides of the Strait in the future, we will create new golden air routes between both sides of the Strait.

National Tourism Bureau Director Shao Qiwei said: Tourism is an envoy of peace and a bridge of friendship. Taiwan is rich in tourism resources and has 23 million hospitable compatriots. Mainland citizens travelling to Taiwan will build a bridge of friendship between both sides of the Strait. We believe that with the support of compatriots on both sides of the Strait and the efforts of both sides' tourism circles, we will do a good job in mainland citizens' travel to Taiwan. In particular, we should make a good beginning so as to lay a good basis for future development.

Beijing Vice Mayor Ding Xiangyang also made a speech at the ceremony. Present on the occasion were: Li Jiaxiang, executive vice minister of communications and transportation and CAAC director; Taiwan Affairs Office Deputy Director Sun Yafu; ARATS Vice President Wang Fuqing; National Tourism Bureau Deputy Director Zhang Xiqin; representatives of mainland civil aviation companies, travel agencies, and the first batch of mainland citizens travelling to Taiwan.

After a brief ceremony, Air China's chartered flight CA185 and Shanghai Airlines' chartered flight HU7987 took off from Beijing one after the other for Taiwan. On the morning of 4 July, nine chartered flights took off from Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen, and Guangzhou carrying 680 passengers to Taiwan. Taiwan's China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines, Eva Airlines, Uni Air, and Trans Asia Airways planned to perform 10 chartered flights on 4 July.

Originally published by Xinhua news agency domestic service, Beijing, in Chinese 0619 4 Jul 08.

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