Monday, December 15, 2008

New cross-strait links and services go online today

The CNA reports on the new cross-strait links starting up today:

A new raft of shipping and air services pacts established between Taiwan and China officially went into effect Saturday, setting the stage for the historic Dec. 15 launch of direct shipping, air cargo charter and daily passenger charter services across the Taiwan Strait.

Among the ships scheduled to take part in the inaugural direct sailing Monday will be two vessels belonging to Evergreen Marine Corp. and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp., respectively, both named "Taiwan." One will embark from Taiwan's Kaohsiung Port bound for China's port of Tianjin, while the other will set said from Keelung, bound for Shanghai.

The day will also see two Chinese vessels, each named "China, " put out from Chinese ports to make the direct crossing across the Taiwan Strait to ports in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the first direct cross-strait cargo charter flight will be provided by China Southern Airlines and is scheduled to take off at 3 p.m. from Guangzhou for the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, according to Civil Aeronautics Administration officials.

The earliest daily passenger flights available that day will be provided by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways and China's China Eastern Airlines and will take off 8 a.m. from Taipei for Shanghai and from Shanghai for Taoyuan, respectively.

The shipping and air agreements were signed Nov. 4 in Taipei by Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits President Chen Yunlin -- who as the heads of the semi-official intermediary bodies serve as the top negotiators representing either side -- upon the conclusion of their second round of talks in five months since cross-strait dialogue was resumed in June.

The shipping services agreement allows Taiwanese-owned and Chinese-owned vessels to sail directly across the Taiwan Strait, without having to make a detour through Ishigaki Island in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture.

The new direct services are also expected to double the number of Chinese tourists -- to 600. Beijing still restricts the regions from which its tourists can originate and carefully screens them, as does Taiwan. That has a negative impact on tourism. Further, at present Chinese tourists can only fly on Chinese airlines. Taiwan should probably focus on getting more $$ out of countries that not only spend more money, but love to send tourists here, Korea and Japan. It's a shame that the ideology of the KMT lacks the kind of imagination necessary to erect a Japanese colonial period nostalgia route that might attract even more Japanese tourists.


Anonymous said...

A colonial period nostalgic trail?! That just sounds completely wrong, not more wrong than having a Chiang Kaishek memorial... but still wrong.

Michael Turton said...

Maybe...but think how educational it could be...for everyone involved.


Thomas said...

In other news, Kaoshiung's container throughput fell 25 percent last month. November's throughput was 653,400 TEU, resulting in an 11-month total of 8.97 million TEU. So unless Kaoshiung happens to pass 1.1 million TEU in December (a huge increase over this month that just won't happen at the moment), Kaoshiung will not reach 10 million TEU for the year. Kaoshiung was over 10 million TEU last year. This means the port will fall quite a bit in the rankings of the world's top ports, as many ports are still increasing their throughputs, though at reduced rates.

While the ranking is not really that important, we can probably expect two things: Ma and the KMT will say this shows why Taiwan needs to attract more business from China. Critics can say that this shows that Ma has not been the economic cure-all that people expected.

I will be very interested to know how the direct shipping really affects Taiwan in the near future. The flights have not realised their potential. Will direct shipping suffer the same fate?

Anonymous said...

A colonial period nostalgic trail?! That just sounds completely wrong, not more wrong than having a Chiang Kaishek memorial... but still wrong.

I'm not certain that it is wrong. The Japanese colonial period is a vital part of Taiwanese history. It showed Taiwanese how different they were from their Chinese counterparts.

Japanese colonialism does not have to be celebrated or whitewashed in order to point out the improvements and organizational talents that they brought to the island, which they had intended as a showcase of Japanese beneficence.

The underlying sentiment, though, is that Taiwanese do not feel that they have any unfinished business with the Japanese in the same way that they do with the early KMT marauders; that the Japanese for all of their ironfisted control did not exhibit the same sense of wanton cruelty that was so characteristic of the post-WWII governance by the KMT.

One can simply tell from their legal and administrative systems, their civility, and transparency which of the two societies, Chinese or Japanese, people would rather live in.

Dezhong said...

Just recently I spoke to one of my Japanese teachers about going to Taiwan again soon.

She said she would love to go there once too but is afraid of people in Taiwan hating Japanese.

Since she doesn't follow up on Taiwan politics, I don't think she said this because there is a KMT government at the moment. Nor do I think her comment was very representative. (I mean generally speaking is there another country in Asia where people are even crazier about Japan or "Japanese stuff"?).

But still I agree, there is a lot that Taiwan could do to attract even more tourists from Japan.

Anonymous said...

So many will laud this historic event. Many will cry foul as well. What does it actually mean? Me thinks it means dialog on a regular basis. Dialog means eventual understanding. Understanding means acceptance of Taiwan for what it really is.

Kaminoge said...

I have a Japanese-language guidebook to Taiwan that does lay out a colonial era-themed itinerary. It's mostly harmless stuff - old streets, buildings, train stations and dams - though it does include a visit to the site of the 1874 Battle of Stonegate (the Mudan Incident). The descriptions are straightforward and factual, without any jingoistic overtones. Other suggested travel plans in the same section include trips based around food, history (of the Taiwanese variety) and physical activities such as hiking and rafting. It's difficult to see anything that is "wrong".

Dixteel said...

you are too idealistic. That only happens in perfect civilized world. Unfortunately our world is still a cruel place. Wars are fought and people die. Many are surpressed and can't voice their opinions. Just look at Tibet. After 50 or so years are there actually understanding between them? They actually have peace treaty between Tibet and China but look at what happened.

I don't like the way they did this direct cross-strait links thing because they did it in a black box type of negotiation between CCP and KMT without public monitoring. This type of thing should be at national level, not political party level negotiation.

On the other hand, it might be a good thing because so many people kept bitching about it for so many years. Now their wishes have came true they can stop bitching about it. Hopefully after these people realize direct links is not the solution to everything, and stop bitching, and start to actually do some hard work, Taiwan's economy will become better.

The only thing I am really worried about is national securities. What are the impacts on it and what does the military plan to do about it?

Anonymous said...

What did you expect from Ma? These changes may seem like a small step towards unification but in fact they are major steps.

Get ready for the invasion.

modeller said...

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modeller said...

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this is my journal

Andrew said...

A major issue might be... Which colonial period?

There seems to be an assumption that there has only been one. And that one is naturally Japanese.

If you look at Taiwan's history of political administration and the policies of those administrations to "tame", "modernize" or "educate" the people of Taiwan, you can see there are several governments, including the pre-democratic KMT regime, that clearly fit the most standard definitions of "colonial".

Anonymous said...

I think Poland should market Holocaust nostalgia tours to German tourists.

Scott said...

Hi Michael,

A practical question that none of the media articles I have found about the direct flights seem to touch upon: are these flights only open to PRC and ROC nationals, or can foreigners use them also?

It is my understanding that the 'three mini-links' were for Jinmen/Mazu/Penghu residents from Taiwan and Xiamen/Fuzhou residents in the PRC only. And reports on the more recent charter flights only mention Taishang and Chinese tourists...

One of the arguments for direct flights was that the greater convenience of travel would encourage more multi-nationals to establish regional headquarters in Taiwan; if the flights are open only to residents of the respective 'areas' (in deference to Regional Administrator Ma), that would seem not to be the case.

Greatful if anyone can clarify.

better anon said...

I think Poland should market Holocaust nostalgia tours to German tourists.--

whats wrong with it? being German it was not to bad to see where my Granpa was killed by nazis..

--What did you expect from Ma? --

he must to move his chinazi arse out of Taiwan and let taiwanese to have more neighbours than "greater China"..

Mutantfrog said...

I've also been wondering about Scott's question.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wasnt going: "A colonial period TRAIL?!", I was "A colonial NOSTALGIC trail?!".

Michael Turton said...

There already is a network of historic sites in Poland connected to the Holocaust, since the main death camps were there. And I am sure the Germans learn a lot from touring them.