Beijing unveiled a policy yesterday to allow mainland visitors to tour Taiwan in groups organized by designated mainland travel agencies.
The regulation came just one day after the central government announced a new package of preferential polices towards the island as a further step the mainland has taken to boost cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation in favour of Taiwan compatriots.
Taiwan travel agencies could also receive mainland tourists after being confirmed by the relevant departments on the mainland, according to the 17-article regulation jointly issued by the National Tourism Administration, the Ministry of Public Security and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.
"We hope mainland tourists can travel to Taiwan in a planned, organized and orderly manner," a mainland official in charge of this matter was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying yesterday.
The consensus arrived at last April between Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and Lien Chan, the then chairman of the Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang Party (KMT), included the promotion of Taiwan's tourism industry by encouraging mainland tourists to go sightseeing on the island.
On May 3 last year, the mainland announced it would allow mainland residents to travel to Taiwan in the near future.
On Saturday, Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee, announced a new 15-item policy to promote economic and trade relations across the Taiwan Straits at the end of the two-day Cross-Straits Economic and Trade Forum.
The mainland will allow four additional varieties of Taiwanese fruit to enter the mainland, on top of the current 18, and will cancel import taxes on 11 kinds of vegetables, Chen told delegates from the KMT and CPC. Eight species of Taiwanese seafood will also be allowed in duty free, he added.
Under the new policies, the mainland will also allow Taiwanese fishing boats to sell their catch in markets in the mainland's eastern province of Fujian.
Lien Chan, KMT honorary chairman and head of the party's delegation to the forum, told a news conference yesterday that the beneficial policies the mainland had announced and "the consensus reached at the forum, are more than what we expected."
Lien said the KMT has never changed its stance on the consensus that there is only one China in the world with each side of the Taiwan Straits having its own wording for it.
(China Daily April 17, 2006)