Taiwan will ease a ban on direct trade and shipping links with China from mid-December, calling it a goodwill gesture and urging its arch-rival to reciprocate. "We are waiting for them. Our arms are open. We are smiling," Lin Chong-pin, vice chairman
of the cabinet's Mainland Affairs Council, told a news conference. The council, which formulates policy towards China, concluded that allowing "mini three links" -- direct trade, transport and mail links between Taiwan-held offshore islands and designated mainland Chinese cities -- was feasible.
Taipei plans to allow direct shipping links between the Taiwan-held heavily fortified offshore island of Quemoy (also known as Kinmen) and the mainland southeastern city of Xiamen as well as between Matsu and Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province.
It was unclear if Beijing would go along with Taipei's plans because fence-mending bilateral talks have been frozen since July 1999 when then President Lee Teng-hui angered the Chinese with a demand for political parity.