Ai Li-shan


After nearly 38 years, on July 15, 1987 the ban was lifted on contact with the People’s Republic of China.  This meant that at long last it was possible for relatives to contact each other direct.

Evidently the Directorate General of Posts was not advised sufficiently in advance to make

preparations for the influx of  mail, nor any arrangements for the recipients in Taiwan to reply.


The lifting of the “curfew” only applied to ordinary mail, not Registered, Express or Insured mail.  As earlier discussed in the article Mail Exchanges Between China and Taiwan 1949-2008,

There was three distinct periods in the handling of the incoming mail.


                        Period 1          From 1987 – about September 15, 1988 a special chop was used to

obliterate the cancel from China.  The stamps also had the       inscription and sometimes the design obliterated.


Period 2          Middle of September, 1988 to the middle of August 1989, only the inscriptions on the stamps were obliterated.


Period 3          From late August or early September 1989 markings were no longer applied.


Even though registered mail was not agreed upon, in fact Registered mail was sent and received with rather interesting methods of handling.  Figure 1 shows a cover mailed on February 5, 1990 and with handwritten date of February 14, 1990 received.  You will note there is no postmark of the receiving post office which was the Hsinchu office.  The letter also did not receive any kind of receiving postmark in Taipei.



   fig. 2          fig. 3



                                                         fig. 1

The letter had an interesting chop applied, figure 2 which is 16 x 67mm and reads “Claim Notice already sent” with place for day, month and year.  This is a rather unusual chop since Registered mail is normally delivered and a signed receipt retained by the post office.  In addition the postman chop, figure 3, reads Hsinchu 128.  The figure 2 chop has the box at the bottom for the postman chop.  Instead, it was placed at the bottom. 


                                                                        Fig. 4


Figure 4 is the reverse of the cover, you will notice the handwritten 79.2.14 date received.  Again, no receiving cancel.  It appears to me that a notice was sent of the arrival and that the addressee had to go to the post office to pick it up, rather than having it delivered.


Figure 5 is a cover received at the Sanchung Post Office on April 29, 1989.  The reverse or of course the front does not have the initial receiving cancel of the Taipei International Mail Processing Center.  This is the only cover I have seen during this period that has the receiving cancel intact.  Figure 6 is another cover addressed to the same address.


Fig. 5



  Fig. 6


The figure 6 cover has no markings but is addressed to the same address as the figure 5 cover.  One can assume it was handled by the same post office, Sanchung (a suburb of Taipei).  Figure 7 is the reverse of the cover with the receiving cancel of the post office, however it has been marked out with a “white out” brush to obscure the cancel.  Remains of the International Mail claim form is still attached.



                                                                                           Fig. 7



During this early period I have only found one example of an Express letter, see figure 8.  This letter was mailed September 23, 1988 and with rules at that time had only the inscriptions marked out.  Figure 9 shows the reverse of cover, please note there is no receiving postmarks or indication of delivery.


Fig. 8







Fig. 9


There are no doubt many other examples, perhaps some with receiving postmarks, however I am not aware of them.  This is a fascinating time in the exchange of mail and deserve a special place in your Postal History collection.


The following dates may be of interest:


                        July 15, 1987              Lifting of the “curfew” with the PRC

                        July 1, 1989                Direct mail exchange (ordinary letter mail only)

                        June 1, 1993                Registered Mail Service resumes

                        December 15, 2008    Full mail service resume (Express, Parcels, Money orders).          

In summary, the handling of registered or express mail was certainly different during this early period.  Perhaps those with access to postal records can shed some light as to how the mail was to be handled.  One question that of course comes to mind, was it possible to trace a missing registered letter from China?  Also, since no receiving cancel was applied in Taipei, it would be impossible to determine if there was a delay in the delivery.  Perhaps some censoring of the mail    

is possible.