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Mainlanders touring Taiwan in record numbers

BEIJING, Jan. 27 -- The number of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan is estimated to hit 3.4 million, a record high, in 2015, the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang told a press conference that the mainland remains the biggest contributor of tourists to Taiwan.

About 9.86 million people made cross-Strait trips in total, an expansion of 4.7 percent from the year before. Taiwan residents made 5.5 million visits to the mainland while mainland residents made about 4.36 million visits to the island, an increase of 2.47 percent and 7.73 percent respectively from the previous year, he said.

The growth was largely attributable to the mainland's removal of entry permit requirements for Taiwan residents and an increase in cross-Strait passenger flights to 890 per week.

In addition to increased people-to-people exchange, Ma also briefed on the political and economic progress in cross-Strait relations last year.

The meeting between Xi Jinpingand Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore in November was the first between the leaders of the two sides since 1949.

In addition to launching a hotline between the chiefs of cross-Strait affairs from the mainland and Taiwan, the two sides also strengthened communication and coordination on jointly fighting crimes and handling disputes involving interests of enterprises from both sides.

Ma Xiaoguang said the achievements made in the year demonstrate that peaceful development of cross-Strait relations will lead to mutual benefit.

He stressed that the mainland will continue to adhere to the 1992 Consensus and oppose secessionist activity in any form.