The government welcomes the launch of a new ferry route between Kinmen and China's Fujian Province next week, which will offer people more choices in traveling across the Taiwan Strait, a Mainland Affairs Council official said yesterday.
Council Vice Chairman Johnasson Liu (劉德勳) made the remarks in response to Beijing's announcement earlier yesterday that a ceremony would be held on June 8 to mark the launch of the ferry service between Kinmen and Fujian's Quanzhou City.
The route will be an addition to the two existing ones between Kinmen and Matsu and Fujian's Xiamen and Fuzhou cities.
Liu said the government has not restricted the destination ports of the ferry services in China and that a Taiwanese shipping company had applied with the government for permission to operate the Kinmen-Quanzhou route in October last year.
The company completed a trial run on April 20 and is ready to start the service in June, Liu said.
He Shizhong (
In 2001, Taiwan opened up Kinmen and Matsu, island groups just off the Chinese coast, to shipping connections with Xiamen and Fuzhou in China's Fujian Province.
Since then, more than 1.4 million people have used the service and almost 4 million tonnes of freight have been transported, He said.
The ships only fly company flags in deference to political sensibilities.
"This method can certainly be expanded to include other ports," he added.
Currently, no other ports in Taiwan are permitted to have direct shipping links with China, and there are no regular direct flights.