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Ships link kinship across Straits
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09:18, June 12, 2008

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Passenger ships between Mawei district and Matsu Island have for years been a shortcut for visits between compatriots across the Taiwan Straits.

Only 16 nautical miles separate Mawei in Fujian province and Matsu in Taiwan across the Straits. The two regions share both culture and kinship.

More than 170,000 people have crossed the Straits on a passenger line that began operation on January 2, 2001, a number greatly augmented when Fujian allowed its residents to travel to Matsu.

For six years Mawei district has celebrated the Lantern Festival with activities for residents from both locales. Last year it organized 90 participants for local opera performances in Matsu.

It also hosts sports teams. In February Matsu sent its largest team to take part in Mawei's Lantern Festival celebrations. Some competitors came from Taiwan Island.

Business and trade have also grown. On October 11, 2007, passenger ships sailed from both Fuzhou port and Matsu, marking the first time ships from both sides traveled at the same time, while a 1,000-ton cargo ship from Keelung of Taiwan sailed directly into Mawei Port, setting another record.

On March 17, 2008, a ship registered in Hong Kong anchored at Keelung carrying 16,000 tons of sandstone, resuming such shipping across the Straits after over a year.

Passenger volume has grown 79 percent on average over the past seven years, with the number doubling or tripling during festivals.

Ship schedules have expanded in response, with regular service increasing from three times a week to daily. Local customs and border quarantine departments have simplified formalities and even help elderly passengers with their parcels and luggage.

Source: Xinhua

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