Just over a year ago I attended a conference in Taiwan.
It was not a place I ever would have chosen to travel if not for that business related event.
I really liked it, and even took a couple of tours into the country side, staying overnight on Sun Moon Lake. I even had a story on my experiences published in both the Winnipeg Free Press and Orlando Sentinel (See http://ow.ly/1IKoN ).
The Taiwanese were immensely proud of the quality of their work, subtly suggesting they paid better attention to it than their dominant neighbours, the Chinese.
For years there were fears China would one day invade Taiwan, since they always proclaimed it as their own.
The Chinese have become wiser it seems.
They seemed to have figured out that military means are not the only way to create an invasion.
In a move that is significant beyond all imagination if you turn back the clock a few years, China has opened its first semi-official tourist office in Taiwan.
This is a major signal of a thaw in the icy relationship that existed between the two countries for so long.
Apparently the new Taipei office will be administered by China’s Cross-Strait Tourism Exchange Association.
“This is an important development in cross-strait relations,” said vice Mainland Affairs Council chairman Chao Chien-min.
“The opening of this semi-official office shows cross-strait exchanges are being gradually institutionalized and now the government can help Taiwanese travellers on the mainland to handle problems that come up during their trips.”
At the same time as this was happening to demonstrate even stronger cooperation between the two a Taiwanese office in Beijing was opened.
After the travel ban between tne two nations was lifted cross border traffic kept increasing as last year a total of four million Taiwanese travelled to the mainland China.
“We hope to set up a direct, smooth and effective communication channel for tourists on both sides and provide them better service,” concluded Mr Chien-min.
While the move may have political motivations, economic considerations may have played a part as well.
The occupancy of hotels in China has fallen dramatically since the global recession set in, and at times like that sometimes you can’t be choosey about who your friends are.
Either way, it is a giant step in a positive direction for both countries.