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Mainland Seeks Better Cross-Straits Travel
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The mainland yesterday urged Taipei to loosen its control over cross-Straits tourism and financial exchanges, while pledging more efforts to push for closer cooperation in the two sectors.

Li Weiyi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said the mainland has always held an "active and practical attitude" to achieving free travel across the Straits.

However, there are still some "technical problems" that need further negotiations between non-governmental tourism associations of the two sides, he told a regular press conference.

Li did not give a timetable for allowing mainland tourists to visit Taiwan, which has yet to lift its ban on inbound travel by mainland residents.

He also mentioned that based on the experience of the three consecutive years of chartered direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan during Spring Festival, related departments will provide better service this year.

"After the realization of direct flights during Spring Festival and other major festivals, we hope we can advance to the realization of direct flights at weekends and eventually towards a full normalization," he said.

Meanwhile, Li refuted the existence of any "political consideration" in granting access approval to insurance companies from Taiwan.

Li said that three Taiwan insurance companies had submitted applications to insurance supervision organizations on the mainland for operation permission. He said only one met the stipulations in the regulation and had gained approval to set up a joint-venture on the mainland.

"This was a legitimate appraisal according to regulations and there is no so-called 'political behaviour'," he said.

In contrast, Li said that applications from mainland insurance companies to set up branches in Taiwan had never been approved.

"Therefore, we hope related departments in Taiwan will take a practical attitude in the consideration of mainland companies' application to improve the normal development of financial exchanges between the two sides," he said.

Li also showed his concern about Shaw Hsiao-ling, wife of Taichung Mayor Jason C. Hu. She was seriously injured in a car accident over a week ago, and said medical organizations on the mainland are willing to offer help if necessary.

(China Daily November 30, 2006)

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