Sat, Nov 06, 2004 - Page 11 News List

MAC urges China to open talks on holiday flights

CNA , Taipei

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) again urged China yesterday to respond to Taiwan's call for official talks on the opening of direct charter flights across the Taiwan Strait during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday.

At a regular press conference, MAC Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said Taiwan is ready in all aspects regarding talks over the charter flight issue and that the only thing absent is Beijing's willingness to discuss the issue.

So long as Beijing responds, any time would be suitable to begin the talks, Chiu stressed.

Whether the New Year charter flight talks will materialize in the near future hinges on three key issues: Beijing's willingness; the technical issues about which Beijing is concerned; and Beijing's attitude toward Taiwan after the Dec. 11 legislative elections, Chiu added.

Late last month, Chiu urged Beijing to authorize an appropriate person or persons to negotiate with Taiwan on the opening of direct charter flights for the New Year season.

Chiu said the Taiwan government has demonstrated goodwill and flexibility toward the proposal that carriers from both sides of the Taiwan Strait could operate direct non-stop charter flights during the Chinese New Year holiday, which will begin Feb. 6 and run through Feb. 13.

"We are hopeful that neither side will set any political prerequisite for negotiations on the services, which are for the convenience of Taiwan businesspeople operating in mainland China who intend to return home for family reunions," Chiu said, adding that the MAC, which charts Taiwan's policy toward the mainland, will name a representative to discuss relevant technical details as soon as possible.

With Beijing's consent, Taiwan carriers operated special charter flights between Shanghai and Taipei or Kaohsiung via Hong Kong or Macau during last year's Chinese New Year period.

Such services were not offered during this year's Chinese New Year holiday because Beijing insisted that China carriers be allowed to offer the same services, while declining to negotiate the technical details with Taiwan. The Taiwan government said that as the opening of two-way, non-stop cross-strait charter flight services involves the exercise of public authority, prior negotiations are necessary.

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