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China, Taiwan Sign Agreements On Improving Direct Trade, Transportation

The negotiators from China and Taiwan have signed a number of agreements aimed at improving direct trade, air traffic, shipping, postal services and food safety alerts between the two countries, said officials on Tuesday.

Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kun and Chen Yunlin, the chief of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), signed the agreements, they added.

The agreements almost triple the direct charter flights between the countries, shortens air routes, allows private business flights, increases the flow of direct shipments through air and sea, improves postal links and shortens delivery time and sets food safety alerts between the two countries.

The agreements were signed after Chen Yunlin, the chief of the Chinese body that handles relations with Taiwan, arrived in Taiwan for a five-day visit on Monday for negotiations aimed at improving the strained relations between the two countries. He is the first high level Chinese official to visit Taiwan in the last six years.

China set up ARATS in 1991 to deal with Taiwan in the absence of formal ties with the neighboring country, prompting Taiwan to set up the SEF for the same purpose. Ever since, the two organizations have been managing the ties between the two countries.

The relations between the two neighbors across the Taiwan Strait soured after the Chinese civil war of 1949, in which Mao Zedong's Communists emerged victorious.

China has since vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule and has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan after Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled to the island following their defeat in the Chinese civil war of 1949.

The new efforts to improve relations with China comes after the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT) under President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in Taiwan ousting the pro- independence Democratic Progressive Party government in the last elections.

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