Taiwan Premier Lien Chan yesterday ordered officials to prepare for direct air and shipping links with China despite deteriorating cross-strait relations. 'The transport ministry shuld...work with the Mainland Affairs Council to prepare the technical area for future direct air and shipping links with the Mainland,' Mr Lien was quoted as saying by the Central News Agency. The negotiations and signing of aviation accords with Hong kong and macau on direct flights have helped stablise development of Taiwan's transport links with the two territories, he said. Taiwan signed five-year accords with Hong kong and Macau last month to allow airlines from the two sides to continue operating after 1997 (hong kong) and 1999 (Macau), when China takes over the territories. The transport ministry om Taipei said direct air and shipping links were necessary if Taiwan was to develop as an Asia-Pacific business centre.