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Taipei and Beijing to launch direct shipping links on December 15

Taipei and Beijing to launch direct shipping links on December 15

Taipei: Taiwan and China are making preparations to launch direct shipping next week, ending the five-decade ban imposed by Taipei in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war, harbour officials and media reports said yesterday.
The Transport Ministry said that it would announce details of the launch after the parliament approves the pact on direct shipping that was signed in Taipei on November 4.
According to the agreement, direct shipping should start on December 15.
"As soon as the parliament has passed the direct shipping pact, we will announce the details, including whether foreign ships can join the direct shipping," a ministry official said, asking not to be named.
Officials of Taiwan's three main ports - Kaohsiung, Taichung and Keelung - said it was up to shipping firms to decide when to launch direct shipping and the ports would make arrangements accordingly.
According to the Commercial Times, Chinese lines plan to launch direct shipping with Taiwan between December 13 and 18. A container ship belonging to China Ocean Shipping Co (COSCO) will sail from Tianjin port to Kaohsiung on December 15, with a second COSCO ship arriving at Kaohsiung on December 18.
"COSCO's Taiwan company will hold a welcome ceremony for the first ship's arrival," Lin Wen-shan, head of the Kaohsiung Harbour's press office, said.
China Shipping Container Lines Co Ltd plans to launch direct shipping with Taiwan on December 15 by dispatching a container ship from Shanghai to Kaohsiung, the Commercial Times said.
The Chinese government has instructed the ports of Shanghai, Dalian, Qingdao, Tianjin, Xiamen, Fuzhou and Taicang to hold ceremonies launching direct shipping with Taiwan, the daily said.
Taiwan's Yang Ming Marine plans to hold a ceremony for direct shipping at the Keeling Harbour, to see off a container ship heading for Shanghai.
"We will hold the send-off ceremony around noon on December 15 for the 1,500 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) YM Heights," Yangming's press officer Huang Wen-cheh said.
The Taiwan-China direct shipping would, at least in the short term, affect Hong Kong's shipping business as the former British colony will no longer be needed as the transit point for cross-strait cargo shipments.
In November, Evergreen Marine Chairman Wang Long-hsiung said the firm would cut Hong Kong from its North China Route after December 15, as its ships will sail directly between Kaohsiung and the mainland.
Wang said Evergreen would use four container ships in cross-strait shipping, with three 2,800-TEU ships serving the North China Route, to bring transshipment containers from China to Kaohsiung and then to Europe and North America, and use one 1,600-TEU ship to serve the South China Route.
Currently 60% of Evergreen's containers are headed to China. Its North China Route is a weekly loop service with stops at Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao and Hong Kong. 
Reports in Taiwanese media yesterday suggested China Merchants is looking at investing in Kaohsiung port, Taiwan's number one port.  [9/12/08]


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