Taiwan doctors, tourism eye China boost

by Benjamin Yeh ,  The China Post | 2008-06-09

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese ophthalmologist Lin Pi-jung is eagerly anticipating a flood of new patients to his already busy clinics, after this week's historic talks between the island and mainland China.

The talks in Beijing, the first direct dialogue between the two rivals in over a decade, are set to focus on establishing direct flights between China and Taiwan and allowing more mainland tourists to visit the island. Lin is predicting an influx of Chinese visitors who choose to have treatment on the island rather than at home -- a boost in the so-called medical tourism industry that he gladly welcomes.

"Certainly, I would be more busy if the cross-strait tensions are further eased," said Lin, chief executive officer of Universal Vision Biotechnology Co., which runs a string of clinics across the island.

"There are growing signs that Taipei-Beijing ties are moving in this positive direction," he said.

Taiwanese authorities are expected to strike a deal with China to launch weekend charter flights, and officials expect up to 3,000 Chinese tourists will be allowed to visit the island daily.

The move is a big step for Taiwan, which banned direct trade and transport exchanges with the mainland after they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

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