China and Taiwan Expand Accords

Chen Yunlin’s visit to Taipei has ended successfully, with the establishment of new agreements that bring both sides closer. The New York Times reports:

Chinese and Taiwanese officials signed agreements on Tuesday expanding charter flights, maritime shipping and cooperation on safety issues, bringing their governments closer together as both struggle to overcome economic slowdowns.

The new transportation agreement raises to 108 from 36 the number of weekly round-trip charter flights, according to a summary of the agreement posted on a site run by the Taiwanese government. The flights are expected to run daily, with 21 cities on the mainland and eight in Taiwan receiving service.

The planes will also fly in a direct line between cities over a route north of Taiwan. Charter flights between China and Taiwan currently take a longer route through airspace because of security concerns.

China and Taiwan will add direct cargo charter flights as well, with 60 scheduled per month.

The two governments will also open direct shipping channels for passengers and cargo. China will open a total of 63 ports (48 seaports and 15 riverports), and Taiwan will open 11. To avoid political sensitivities, ships will not fly national flags.

The two governments also agreed to expand free exchange of information regarding food safety issues. If any product is considered faulty or dangerous, a government will recall it and halt its shipment, according to the agreement.

Chen also said China would give Taiwan two pandas at the end of the year. Panda diplomacy has been raised in the past, but was rejected by the former DPP-governing party.

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