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UPDATED: January 4, 2009 NO. 2 JAN. 8, 2009
Momentous Connections
Taiwanese business people are thrilled with the new direct transportation links between their island and the mainland

GOOD FOR BUSINESS: Lee Maw-sheng, President of the Taiwan Businessmen Association, applauded the new direct flight and sea transportation routes between Taiwan and the mainland during a group interview in Shanghai on December 15, 2008 (LIU YING)

The new direct air, shipping and postal links between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland will benefit the millions of Taiwanese business people who have investments on the mainland.

Rie-ho Lee, Chairman of Tian Fu Group, a tea producer and retailer, said the direct transportation links will benefit Taiwan business people the most, because they will be able to expand their businesses on the vast mainland territory on the one hand, while maintaining close bonds with their families in Taiwan on the other hand.

Lee came to the mainland in 1993 to start his huge tea business in Zhangzhou, Fujian Province. Every month, he had to travel back and forth between Taiwan and the mainland via Hong Kong or Japan. "That was exhausting," Lee said.

When direct flights were officially started last December 15, Lee said that he could go back to Taiwan whenever he wanted within a few hours.

Empowering businesses

Taiwanese business people who work on the mainland are hoping that reduced transportation costs on the direct transport routes can help them weather the ongoing fallout from the global financial storm.

"Our transportation costs will be reduced by two thirds after the direct sea transportation link [goes into effect]," said Chen Pingshun, General Manager of Fujian Quan Yu Industry Co. Ltd., based in Quanzhou in southeast Fujian Province. The company imports raw materials from Taiwan and exports shoe soles to overseas shoemakers.

Chen, who is from south Taiwan, came to Guangdong Province in 1989, two years after the Taiwan authorities allowed Taiwanese to visit the mainland. He found the mainland a huge virgin land filled with abundant business opportunities-but only for visionary entrepreneurs to explore at that time.

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