First China flight lands in Taiwan

First regular direct flight sign of thawing relations across Taiwan Straits.

    Taiwan greeted visitors on board the inaugural flight from China with a warm welcome [AFP]

    The move to start direct flights follows talks in May when Taiwan's ruling party leaders visited Beijing and agreed to resume talks with China.

    The two sides entered negotiations in mid-June on improving economic ties and lifting travel restrictions, which subsequently led to the landmark deal.

    Liu Shao-yong, president of China's Southern Airlines, piloted the Airbus A330 jetliner during the 100-minute flight.

    "This is a sacred moment. The two sides of the strait are like members in one family," he said after landing.

    "Flying over the strait to Taiwan is like coming home. It feels good."

    Warm welcome

    Several fire engines shot water streams at the aircraft in a welcome gesture as Taiwanese officials stood watching nearby.

    Taiwan's China Airlines also flew more than 300 Taiwanese on a charter flight to Shanghai earlier in the day.

    There have been no regular direct flights since 1949 when the two sides split amid a civil war, with Taiwan barring direct travel for decades as a security measure.

    China continues to claim the island as part of its territory.

    "We were lucky to be on the plane since many people were fighting for seats on the inaugural flight," said Wang Yu, a Chinese businessman from Zhuhai in southern China.

    Tsai Chang-lung, a Taiwanese businessman, told AFP he and his wife were "happy to enjoy this historic moment together".

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    'Money can't buy us': Mapping Canada's oil pipeline battle

    We travel more than 2,000km and visit communities along the route of the oil pipeline that cuts across Indigenous land.

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women under ISIL: The wives

    Women married to ISIL fighters share accounts of being made to watch executions and strap explosives to other women.

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

    The story of Ali Reza Monfared, the Iranian who tried to buy diplomatic immunity after embezzling millions of dollars.