Evergreen Line's 1140-TEU Uni-Adroit set sail across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Straits for China's northern Xingang port on December 15, 2009 opening a new era of direct ocean shipping following a ceremony at Kaohsiung harbor overseen by Taiwan's President Ma Yin-Jiu.
The direct link ends a nearly 60-year suspension of such services between Taiwan and the China mainland. The new direct service was accelerated with the election and inauguration of President Ma earlier this year. The two nations signed an agreement in November to ensure the opening of trade as beneficial to both economies.
President Ma noted that Kaohsiung, one of the world's ten largest container ports, will allow Taiwan's southernmost harbor to "take full advantage of its central geographical position in east Asia" and bolster the regional economy. It is expected that all of Taiwan's international harbors will eventually be involved in a trade that will include virtually all of China's ports.
Direct waterborne shipping will eliminate the need for vessels to stop at a time-consuming third point — typically Hong Kong or a Japanese island. With annual trade between the two countries valued at some $100b, Taiwanese business groups have sought for a long time to end the ban on Taiwan Strait commerce.
The Evergreen service, known as the Taiwan - North China or HBT route, will have the rotation of Kaohsiung－Xingang －Dalian－Qingdao－Kaohsiung.
S.S. Lin, Evergreen's Executive Group Vice Chairman said: "This is a significant milestone for Taiwan, China and for Evergreen. Direct shipping links will save time and costs and will help carriers and shippers increase business competitiveness and improve performance." He added: "Cross-strait economic exchanges will aid those people on both sides of this trade and will energize the transportation capability and upgrade the service quality across the Straits."
Mr. Lin has spoken publicly over recent years about the need for an agreement to loosen the direct commerce rules.
To mark the historical significance of the Direct Shipping Links agreement, recently signed between the authorities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, Evergreen invited Taiwan’s President Ma, Minister Chi-Kuo Mao of the Ministry of Transportation & Communications and a number of VIP guests to join its senior management led by S. S. Lin, Evergreen Executive Group Vice Chairman, and Arnold Wang, Chairman of Evergreen Marine Corp.(Taiwan) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on 15 December, 2008 to celebrate the launch of a new North China/Taiwan service (HBT).