China to Allow Individual Tourist Visas for Taiwan

China will lift the ban on granting individual visas for Chinese tourists wishing to go to Taiwan from late June, another sign of warming relations between Taiwan and Mainland China.

Initially, the program will be open to residents of the capital, Beijing, Shanghai and the coastal city of Xiamen on the Taiwan Straits, said Wang Yi, director of Taiwan Affairs Office for China, in a speech published on the website of the service.

Residents of Fujian Province, which includes the city of Xiamen, will be allowed to travel individually to the islands of Taiwan Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu, off the coast of Fujian.

Many Chinese tourists visited the island in 2010, but the tourist visas were granted to groups only.

Last week, Taiwan and Mainland China announced an increase of 50% of their airlines, bringing the number of flights between the two territories to 558 per week. The timing of this increase has not yet been unveiled.

Since the election of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, an advocate of improving ties with China, relations between the two territories are better than they have ever been since 1949.