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The mainland and Taiwan launched daily direct passenger flights, shipping routes and postal services on December 15 for the first time in 60 years as once icy ties begin to thaw.

The initiative underscores the most dramatic improvement in cross-Straits relations since island leader Ma Ying-jeou took office in May.

Beijing's top official on cross-Straits affairs on Monday called the direct links "a historical stride." while Ma hailed them as "a symbol of reconciliation."

"Today is another memorable date in the history of cross-Straits relations ... which signifies that our 30-year effort has finally paid off," Wang Yi, minister of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a ceremony in Tianjin to mark the start of direct shipping.

Ma said the direct routes to the mainland can signify two things.

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