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Taipei mayor calls for direct flights
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08:32, June 25, 2008

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The mayor of Taipei hopes to soon see a direct flight open between Shanghai and Taipei.

A direct link between Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport and Taipei's Songshan Airport will benefit both cities, Hau Lung-bin said yesterday.

He was speaking during an official visit to the Shanghai airport.

"I could imagine that Hongqiao (district) will become an important business and transport hub for Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta by 2010," Hau said.

"And with the large mass of population and business clusters, Songshan (district in Taipei) will also play a key role in Taiwan's future economic development," he said.

"A direct flight will reduce travel time between the two hubs to about 80 minutes, which will closely link Taipei and Shanghai, as well as the entire Yangtze River Delta region economically," he said.

"What we need to plan is how to combine our efforts in mutual development."

Currently, there is no direct air route between the two cites. Travelers must transfer in Hong Kong or Macao.

Chartered flights which are available on occasions like the Spring Festival take about three hours, and planes have to stop off or fly through Hong Kong or Macao.

Regular weekend charter flights starts from July 4.

After visiting the airport, Hau and his delegation visited the Shanghai municipal urban planning museum.

Hau wrote in the museum's signing book: "May dreams of Shanghai and Taipei come true."

Today, Hau will visit the Shanghai Wild Animals Park.

Jason Yeh, director of Taipei Zoo, told China Daily yesterday that they would not discuss importing pandas from the mainland on this visit, as they had originally planned.

The reason is that representatives from the China Wildlife Conservation Association are not available to meet as expected.

"But we are very confident in getting the pandas eventually," Yeh said.

Several zoos on the island are vying for the right to host the pair of pandas.

Yeh said that as early as 1995, Taipei Zoo started sending staff to the mainland and zoos around the world, which have pandas, for trainings on raising pandas.

"We have spent more than NT$310 million ($10.3 million) on building facilities for pandas," Yeh said.

"The weather from November to March will be cooler in Taiwan and we hope they will come during that time period."

Officials from both cities are expected to discuss zoo exchange programs for other rare animals, he said.

Lin Hwa-Ching, CEO of the Wildlife Conservation & Research Center at Taipei Zoo, said the exchanges may include Yangtze River alligators and black snub-nosed monkeys from Shanghai and orangutans, white-handed gibbons and sun bears from Taiwan.

Source: China Daily

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