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Direct Harbin-Taiwan flights start

  HARBIN, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Direct flights between Harbin, the capital city of northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province and Taipei are to start on Sept. 1.

  The four-hour flights, operated by China Southern Airlines, will fly every Tuesday. The maiden flight takes off from Harbin Taiping International Airport on Sep. 1, said Li Yan, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Heilongjiang Provincial Committee on Friday.

  Government officials, Taiwan businessmen, journalists and tourists would travel on the flight, he said.

  Harbin is among six mainland cities recently added to the list of cities permitted to operate regular direct flights to Taiwan.

  In the latest round of talks between the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation in April, it was agreed to add six mainland cities as regular direct passenger flight terminals, bringing the total to 27. The other new additions are Hefei, Nanchang, Guiyang, Ningbo and Jinan.

  Heilongjiang attracted 1.7 billion U.S. dollars of investment from Taiwan from the mid-1980s to the end of 2008.

  The mainland and Taiwan began direct air and sea transport and postal services on Dec. 15 last year. Previously, air and sea connections, including mail, were routed through a third location, usually Hong Kong.

  On Nov. 4, 2008, the mainland and Taiwan agreed to regular direct passenger charter flights across the Taiwan Strait. Before that, flights were only offered on weekends and during the country's four major traditional festivals -- the Spring Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.