More than 600,000 Chinese visited Taiwan in 2009: media

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The Independent Online

More than 600,000 Chinese tourists visited Taiwan in 2009, state-run media reported Saturday, amid warming relations between the two sides.

The 606,100 visitors each spent nearly 1,800 dollars during their stay on the island, tourism officials were quoted by the China Daily newspaper as saying.

"Years of isolation between the two sides have made Taiwan an attractive place for mainland tourists," said Zheng Lijuan, deputy general manager of a unit of travel group CITS International.

Since July 2008 - when regular air services were resumed between the traditional foes - about 660,000 Chinese tourists have visited Taiwan and spent 1.13 billion dollars, the English-language daily said.

Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing claims the island as part of its territory and believes reunification is only a question of time.

Ties have improved since May 2008 when China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou took office in Taiwan.