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First Taiwan ship reaches mainland via direct shipping route
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 The first cargo ship from Taiwan via a direct shipping route to the Chinese mainland since 1949 docked at the port of Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province on Wednesday.

Goods unloaded from 326 containers on the ship weighed 4,464 tonnes. They were oranges, machines, electronic products and auto parts, and chemical materials.

Zheng Yonggang, a mainland buyer of the Taiwan oranges, said the shipping of such a batch of farm produce from Taiwan to Xiamen used to take seven days at its quickest, since they needed to detour to Hong Kong.

With direct shipping opened, the ship left Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, Tuesday evening and arrived in Xiamen Wednesday morning.

Orange farmers in Taiwan were worried about their bumper harvest of oranges this year, which were much more than needed within the island.

A visit made by Chen Yunlin, chairman of the Association for Relations across Taiwan Strait to Taipei in November helped open the orange sales to the mainland, which was further facilitated by the opening of the direct shipping across the straits.

The direct daily air transport across the straits started as a mainland-based Shenzhen Airlines flight took off from the Shenzhen Airport for Taipei on Monday, ending a 59-year ban on such links.

Another mainland jet left from Shanghai on a direct flight to Taiwan and returned on Wednesday, fully loaded with Taiwan-made electronic goods.

The mainland is the top trade partner for the island and its biggest export market and largest trade surplus provider.

(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2008)

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