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Mainland tycoons to check out Taiwan
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A group of property tycoons from China's mainland will visit Taiwan next week in what could bring the first wave of mainland investment in the island since 1949 when Kuomintang government fled to Taiwan after losing a civil war.

Authorities have approved the visit by the business group as part of regular commercial exchanges, James Huang, a spokesman of the Mainland Affairs Council, said yesterday.

The visit comes just four weeks before Ma Ying-jeou's inauguration as Taiwan's new leader. During his campaign, Ma pushed for an expansion of trade ties with the mainland, and said some mainland investment should be allowed on Taiwan.

Taiwan officials said the real estate developers are set to arrive on Monday and will look into leisure and tourism investments in anticipation of mainland tourists flocking to the island.

Ma has proposed expanding the number of mainland tourists allowed in a year to 1 million, up from 80,000 in 2007. He has also proposed allowing direct weekend charter flights between the mainland and Taiwan.

Taiwanese have invested billions of dollars on the mainland but mainland investments are banned by the Taiwan authorities.

Taiwan officials say the visiting tycoons include Pan Shiyi of Soho China, Li Silian of R&F Properties, and Feng Lun of Vantone Real Estate.

The business group is scheduled to visit a planned construction site near the international airport complex in Taoyuan County, a commercial-leisure complex in the central city of Taichung, and several resort areas in southern Taiwan.

"We are sure the visit by the group and subsequent investments will give a big boost to Taiwan's property market and the economy," said Hsiao Chia-chi, Taichung's vice mayor.

According to Taiwan media report, the business group will seek to rent a floor in Taipei 101, the Asia's tallest building, for use by themselves and mainland companies.

(Shanghai Daily April 18, 2008)

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