Taiwan said it intends to allow foreign ships to travel across the Taiwan Strait and stop at Chinese and Taiwanese ports, in a sign of further opening of trade ties between the two political rivals.

“There used to be a direct shipping ban on foreign shipping firms. That will be removed eventually,” Fu Dong-cheng, vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s main China policy maker, told reporters.

Fu’s latest comments point to an extension of a current agreement signed earlier this month between Taiwan and China that allows only Taiwanese and Chinese ships to travel across the narrow strait.

Earlier this month, Chen Yunlin, China’s top negotiator on Taiwan affairs, visited Taiwan and signed a flurry of deals to open new trade and transit links. Chen was the highest level Chinese official to have come to the island.

Taiwan and China plan to hold more similar trade talks early next year, which will include more specifics on the extended shipping links to include foreign shipping firms.

The Mainland Affairs Council’s comments came after Taiwan’s market closed. Taiwan’s transportation index fell 0.48%, in line with the broad market’s 0.49% decline.

Relations between Taiwan and China have warmed after Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May, as he favors a more China-friendly policy.

China has claimed self-ruled Taiwan since 1949 when Mao Zedong’s forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT fled to the island.

Beijing has vowed to reunite with Taiwan, by force if necessary. (Reuters)