By Peter S. Goodman
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, January 26, 2003
SHANGHAI, Jan. 26 (Sunday) # A chartered jet operated by Taiwan’s national airline landed here this morning to pick up passengers and fly them home across the Taiwan Strait for Chinese New Year, transcending a geographic and symbolic divide that has separated the self-governing island from mainland China for more than half a century.
It was the first time a Taiwanese carrier had landed in mainland China since 1949, when Mao Tse-tung’s Communist Army conquered Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces and sent them fleeing to Taiwan, where they established a government in exile.
So much has happened since, not least a growing economic integration that has seen Taiwanese businesses plow as much as $100 billion into ventures on the mainland. An estimated 500,000 Taiwanese now live in mainland China. But the political division has remained: Taiwan clings to its status as a self-governing territory, while China insists that the island is part of its domain, often threatening to reclaim it by force.