Mainland Boat Arrives at Kinmen

The Chinese mainland boat "Gulangyu" arrived at the Taiwanese island of Kinmen this afternoon, greeted by the Kinmen County government with a drum and wind instrument orchestra and dragon and lion dances, according to China News Service.

This is the first officially-sanctioned trip by a mainland boat to Taiwan territory in half a century.

The "Gulangyu" ferry left Xiamen in the southeastern province of Fujian around 9:00 am (0100 GMT), taking about 100 passengers to the small Taiwanese island of Kinmen, just a few kilometers (miles) off the mainland.

"The boat carries more than 90 senior citizens visiting relatives on Kinmen," said a member of staff with Xiamen's semi-official Kinmen Compatriot Federation, who gave his surname as Dai.

"There are also some medical personnel, and a number of Chinese journalists," he said.

Although it will last only four days and three nights, and the tour group is not scheduled to meet any Taiwanese officials, the trip will have potentially historic significance for relations between Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

The 90 people who set out on the short trip are witnesses to the human cost of this division, as many of them were born on Kinmen and have been barred from visiting for more than 50 years.

The "Gulangyu" is the first mainland vessel to participate in newly-established direct trade, transport and postal links - called the "mini-links" because they connect only Taiwan's outlying Kinmen and Matsu Islands with selected ports in Fujian.

Taiwan sent the first two boats to make an official trip to the mainland in nearly 52 years on January 2, in a move hailed by Taiwan as a breakthrough in relations with Chinese mainland.

On Friday, 10 Taiwanese businessmen sailed directly to the mainland from Kinmen, after obtaining special permission from authorities on both sides to make a two-hour voyage.

Many people expect the three "mini-links" to develop into broader relations as early as the end of the year.

China has expressed hopes that full-blown links between Taiwan and mainland will be established at an early date.

(CIIC 02/06/2001)

In This Series

Mainland Ship Across Straits Expected Next Week

Closer Fujian-Taiwan Exchanges

Contact and Exchange With Taiwan People Urged

Beijing Offers Goodwill Gesture to Taipei for Links

Common Understanding on "Three Direct Links" Welcome

Push Direct Straits Links



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