Rapprochement was in the air at Keelung harbour near Taipei this week. Sixteen hundred Chinese tourists disembarked from the Legend of the Seas, the first passenger ship to make a direct cruise from the mainland to Taiwan. “We welcome you far away friends in this warm spring when flowers are blossoming” gushed Chang Tong-rong, Keelung’s mayor. According to the China Post, many of the visitors were anxious to reciprocate, declaring “Taiwan, I love you” as they stepped ashore. The mainland tourists, who are part of an employee reward programme organised by American direct marketing giant Amway, are the first of more than 12,000 employees scheduled to cross the Straits. Taiwan media forecasts that the full group will spend $17 million during their extended visit.
In related news, China’s premier Wen Jiabao last week announced he was so keen to see Taiwan he would “crawl” there if necessary. He would love to see the Alishan Mountain, he says.
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