Data sent over first cables linking China and Taiwan

image source, (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
image captionThe cables have a deep political significance

The first data has been sent over cables linking China and Taiwan, in what seems to be another sign of improved ties between the two.

Traffic flowed over the two subsea fibre-optic cables for four minutes during a "completion ceremony".

Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, but China believes it should be reunited with the mainland.

One analyst said the cables reinforced communication links, but also had a deeper political significance.

Relations between China and Taiwan have been improving since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in Taiwan in May 2008. His policy has been to sign more economic commercial agreements with the People's Republic - such as this one.

"This is part of a crescendo of increasing economic, logistic and person-to-person links across the Straits - we've seen direct flights increasingly replacing the flights via Hong Kong or Macau and a growing number of tourists from the mainland visiting Taiwan," Duncan Clark, an analyst from BDA China, told the BBC.

"From a telecom perspective, direct links obviously helps create a more robust infrastructure, both in terms of speed and in avoiding the risks of further disruptions from either earthquakes or fishing trawlers, who have in the past inadvertently dragged up cables in their nets or anchors."

Although the move may be a sign of warming relations, Jonathan Fenby, a China director of the research service Trusted Sources, thinks that the two sides may have different outcomes in mind.

"Obviously, Beijing thinks that in the end this kind of co-operation will lead to Taiwan becoming politically closer to mainland China, whereas the Taiwanese calculation is that they can build up their economic strength with co-operation with the mainland, which is a very important economic partner, while retaining their political status," he said.

The two fibre-optic cables connect the city of Xiamen in southern China and the Taiwanese-controlled Kinmen island group, located around 200km (125 miles) from the main island of Taiwan.

The cables have been laid by Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom, China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile and cost a total of 200m Taiwanese dollars ($6.7m; £4.2m).

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