China's southeastern Fujian Province is planning to send a boat on a historic trip to the small Taiwan island of Kinmen off the mainland coast early next week, officials in the province said Thursday.
The crossing, which has tentatively been set for Tuesday, will be the first officially sanctioned trip by China's mainland to Taiwan in more than 50 years.
"We are shooting for a trip to take place on February 6," said a staff member with the semi-official Kinmen Compatriot Federation in the Fujian port city of Xiamen, who said his surname was Dai. "We are trying to work out the formalities with the Taiwan side."
The boat is expected to carry about 100 passengers, most of them senior citizens who intend to visit relatives in the island, he said.
If the trip goes ahead as planned, the boat will be the first mainland vessel to sail for Taiwan in about 50 years. Taiwan authorities released a "three mini-links" policy at the end of 2000, which opened direct shipping between Kinmen and Matsu Islands and mainland's Fujian province.
Taiwan sent its first two boats to travel directly between Taiwan and the mainland in nearly 52 years on January 2, in a move hailed by Taipei as a breakthrough in cross-Strait relations and a move toward removing tensions across the straits.
The three "mini-links" -- direct transport, trade and postal services -- between the two islands and Fujian are expected to develop into broader relations as early as the end of the year, sources said.