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China, Taiwan mend ties, sign business accords

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-04

Officials from China and Taiwan signed business accords worth billions of dollars during a historic visit to the estranged island nation by Beijing envoy Chen Yunlin. The deals include shipping, flights and postal services.

Taiwan and China Tuesday signed a range of deals aimed at bringing the two sides closer economically, after almost 60 years of hostilities that often took them to the brink of war.
  
Officials from the two sides were shown live on television signing four agreements that are potentially worth billions of dollars, after talks that marked a significant warming of ties between the former bitter enemies.
  
The two sides have agreed to introduce direct cargo shipping and postal services, to add passenger flights and to discuss food security in the wake of health problems caused by poisonous Chinese food imports.
  
The issue of tourism cooperation was also part of the talks, which took place Tuesday morning in Taipei's Grand Hotel between Beijing's envoy Chen Yunlin, head of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, and Chiang Pin-kung, his local counterpart as head of the Strait Exchange Foundation.
  
Television showed the two men shaking hands as they held copies of the agreements bound in red silk brocade.
  
Chiang then presented Chen with a large framed painting with eight Chinese characters, in black on a gold background that read: "Peace agreement for a win-win situation."
  
Chen reciprocated with a crystal sculpture of a handshake, which he said symbolised peace and cooperation.
  
The agreements, which analysts have said could be worth billions of dollars over the long term, mark a step forward in the relationship between the two sides.
  
Beijing formally still claims sovereignty over the island, which split from China when the nationalist Kuomintang lost the civil war and fled to Taiwan, and has vowed to retake it, by force if necessary.
  
But the KMT government of President Ma Ying-jeou won office earlier this year on a platform of closer ties with China in order to improve the island's sluggish economy.

Date created : 2008-11-04

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