China and Taiwan have agreed to begin direct flights in talks representating a first official step towards reconciliation. The delegates, who did not include high-profile leaders, also agreed to allow tour groups to visit each others territory. Although regarded as an important step, the talks in Beijing avoided sensitive political issues like Taiwan’s sovereignty and Chinese missiles aimed at island.
Direct charter flights will begin in early July. They will ultimately link four Chinese cities to Taipei, Beijing, Shangai, Canton and Xiamen. These last three cities have large Taiwanese business communities.
Apart from special holidays, China has previously insisted flights to and from Taiwan are routed through a third territory such as Hong Kong or Macau. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since since the Communists won the civil war in 1949, and the Nationalists fled the mainland.
But ties are now improving thanks largely to the election of a more China-friendly leadership in Taipei.