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New Sea Link Between Mainland and Taiwan Opens
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A long, loud blast from the vessel Quanzhou's horn signaled the inauguration of a new direct shipping service between the city in southeastern Fujian Province and Jinmen in Taiwan.

This is the third such sea link between the Chinese mainland and the region of Taiwan. The other routes, between Xiamen-Jinmen and Mawei-Mazu, opened in 2001.

Over a 130 Taiwanese business people and tourists were the first passengers on board yhe Quanzhou which left Shijing Port for Jinmen at 9:40 AM on Thursday to begin its maiden voyage on the new route.

Just over an hour later the New Golden Dragon vessel carrying 200 Taiwanese left Jinmen port and arrived at Quanzhou at 12:05 AM.

The new passenger only route will tighten economic ties across the Taiwan Straits but also opens a doorway to direct shipping services between the Chinese mainland and the main island of Taiwan, said He Shaochuan, deputy director of the Subcommittee for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Compatriots and Overseas Chinese under the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"There's only 14 nautical miles between the ports of Shijing and Jinmen so many Taiwanese are doing business in Quanzhou." said Li Chao-shui, captain of the Quanzhou. "The new route should have opened years earlier."

Chen Cheng-nan, who opened a porcelain factory at Quanzhou in 1992, came to see the vessel leave port.

"I've waited for the opening of the new route for more than a decade and finally the dream has come true," said Chen. He is a former chairman of the Taiwan Business Peoples' Association in Quanzhou.

The vessel will make the hour-long voyage between Quanzhou and Jinmen ports twice a day, according to operators Cosco Kinxin Marine Transport Corporation.

As of April more than 1.4 million passengers and 3.96 million tons of freight have been transported since the other two direct shipping routes opened in 2001.These links have become known informally as the 'golden traffic lines.'

(Xinhua News Agency June 9, 2006)

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