China, Taiwan Agree on More Direct Flights, Shipping, Mail

China and Taiwan agreed on 108 weekly flights that no longer have to go through Hong Kong airspace.

The two sides also agreed to direct shipping links between 63 Chinese ports and 11 Taiwanese ports. The transport links will take effect within 40 days. Direct shipping links can save more than $100 million in costs a year, Zheng Lizhong, the deputy to China’s top Taiwan envoy, said.

China and Taiwan will discuss financial ties in coming months, including allowing Taiwan banks to directly buy stakes in or units of banks and securities brokerages in China, Straits Exchange Foundation’s Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian said today.

“Chances are high” that the two sides will sign a memorandum of understanding agreeing on “financial ties in the next round of talks in the first half of next year,” he said. Chen has invited his counterpart Chiang to visit China in the first half of 2009 for the next round of talks, Kao said.

Taiwan’s DPP Opposes This

“Even if these economic benefits existed, it is controlled in the hands of China, and the government seems to be prepared to trade off our sovereignty in order to gain these economic benefits,” said DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, in a statement issued yesterday.

“Taiwan and China simply are trying to recover the basic communication channels they lost previously, so there is no need to overexpose the sovereignty issue,” Chinese Culture University’s Yang said. “The DPP simply is seeing it as a zero- sum game to meet its own political needs.”