The sound of a ship's siren on Saturday morning announced the start of a homeward journey by 181 Taiwanese people who have businesses or work on the mainland.
The ship left the dock at Xiamen in south China's Fujian Province for Mazu, where passengers will take a flight to Taiwan to celebrate next week's Spring Festival,.
This is the first time in fifty years that Taiwanese have been able to make a through trip from the mainland to Taiwan without stopping at Hong Kong or Macao.
Sources say that another group of more than 100 people will also take the new route home and they will come back to the mainland the same way.
Huang Tierong, a Xiamen-based Taiwanese businessman, said that the new route is not only time-saving but also reduces the cost to only a quarter of the former 16,000 Taiwan currency.
Passengers hope that the new route will soon become regular, breaking the bottleneck of direct transportation between the mainland and Taiwan.
Statistics show that since direct shipping transportation between the city and Jinmen opened on January 2, 2001, some 22,000 Taiwanese have traveled to the mainland by sea.
Over one third of the Jinmen population have visited the mainland.
( People's Daily February 10, 2002)