China and Taiwan are holding talks again about opening regular direct flights between mainland China and Taiwan. This is a major step out of the frosty relationship which derives from the Chinese Civil war in 1949 when the Chinese nationalists fled to the island of Taiwan when the communists took over power in Beijing. Since then, the two have been bitter rivals and their relationship was tense. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan which has been ruling itself with the support of the United States. Taiwan has been capitalist since then and rose to a wealthy high-tech country.
The political talks had been frozen since 1999 under the rule of a pro-independence party which lost the elections in spring. As Taiwan’s new president Ma Ying-jeou is convinced that better relations with mainland China and good economic ties are more important than formal independence, this is a chance for a more friendly future. Travelers between China and Taiwan have to change in Hongkong or Macau as almost no direct flights were permitted for more than 50 years. The resumed talks could lead to an opening of regular direct flights and Taiwan could allow up to 3,000 Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan each day. Until now, Taiwan has tightly controlled the number of Chinese visitors.
Despite China and Taiwan still being political foes, the business relations are extensive. About 300,000 Taiwanese live and work in mainland China, Taiwanese companies are investing in China and build up ever more factories. The bilateral trade has been rising for years.
However, China is unlikely to soften its aggressive claims of sovereignty over Taiwan which Beijing considers as a breakaway province. Another key issue is the Taiwan Strait where several military confrontations took place.