Reestablishment of China-Taiwan Air, Shipping and Mail Links Hold Promise of Significant Economic Benefits

A flight from Shenzhen, China, landing in Taipei, Taiwan, at around 9:00 am on Monday, and a flight leaving from Taipei at 8:00 am heading for Shanghai, China, marked the reestablishment of regularly scheduled commercial flights, shipping and mail between Taiwan and China – services which have not operated between the two countries since the 1949 revolution that put the Communist Party in power on China’s mainland. A passenger on the inaugural flight from Taiwan noted that this new arrangement is much more convenient, allowing him to have a meeting in Shanghai in the morning and return to Taipei on the same day, where as before a one-way trip took up an entire day.

This new level of cooperation between China and Taiwan is considered to be of such importance, that ceremonies were held at seaports on both coasts as commercial vessels prepared for the first journey across the Taiwan Strait. About twenty vessels sailed from six of China’s ports carrying cargo and passengers, heading for two of Taiwan’s ports, according to CCTV, China’s state broadcaster. In a direct broadcast, the Chinese government’s Director of Taiwan Affairs, Wang Yi, stated: “The link we’re establishing today has taken thirty years to achieve. This link is not only cheaper and faster, it’s the final part of our economic circle with Taiwan.”

Analysts believe that the launch of direct cargo links with China will be of great benefit to Taiwan, boosting its competitive edge against rival transport destinations Singapore and Hong Kong, with logistics companies reportedly being keen to make use of this new channel of transport. Previously, goods heading for China from Taiwan had to be transported via a third destination, such as Hong Kong, proving to be a time-consuming and costly exercise. Direct links are likely to save shipping companies in the region of $36 million a year through lower fuel costs, labor costs and transit times. In light of the global economic crisis, these savings are even more welcome.

The reestablishment of the direct postal service was marked by a ceremony in Beijing, with 81-year-old Zheng Jian mailing a letter to his family in Taipei, while the chairman of Taiwan’s state postal service Chunghwa Post Co., Wu Min-yu, mailed the first direct courier letter to Liu Andong, his counterpart in China.