Tue, Jan 11, 2005 - Page 1 News List

KMT in league with Beijing over flights

SEEKING APPROVAL A group of Chinese Nationalist Party officials traveled to China, where they were able to please Beijing with their ideas about Lunar New Year flights

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Direct cross-strait charter flights for Lunar New Year are "definitely attainable," China's top cross-strait policymaker said yesterday during a meeting with opposition party politicians and business representatives as reported by Beijing's official newswire.

With the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) trumpeting its success from Beijing, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday downplayed the meeting, repeating calls for semi-official negotiations on the matter.

The KMT delegation yesterday held a press conference in Beijing immediately after meeting with China's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) to announce the formal launch of cross-strait charter flights.

"As a result of the KMT delegation's visit, Chen made the following decisions: cross-strait charter flights for the Lunar New Year are now officially launched. In addition ... the flights will be implemented in accordance with what was decided [yesterday]," KMT Legislator Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) said.

"This is to say, all of our proposals -- direct, reciprocal flights servicing multiple routes -- met with Chen Yunlin's approval," Tseng said.

He also said that Chen had agreed to new routes for the charter flights, approving services between Taiwan and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Shenzhen.

Cross-strait charter flights in February 2003 had only served Taiwanese businesspeople based in China, also known as taishang, between Taipei and Shanghai.

KMT Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴) also said that China was prepared to relax regulations limiting flights to just taishang, saying that anyone with a Chinese visa, called a "Taiwanese compatriot's identification card" by Beijing, could book seats on the flights.

However, reports on China's state-run Xinhua newswire made no mention of the new routes nor of the relaxation of requirements for boarding cross-strait charter flights.

According to Xinhua, Chen said yesterday that he hoped the flights could be direct and reciprocal, with both Chinese and Taiwanese airlines accepting passengers on both sides of the Strait. He also said that he hoped to see an increased number of routes from last year, the Chinese-language report said.

In response, the Mainland Affairs Council issued a brief statement last night saying it had always been prepared to discuss the details of direct, reciprocal flights, and reiterating that both sides had previously found negotiations conducted in accordance with the "Hong Kong" model of 2002 acceptable.

The model in question enables business representatives to negotiate flights under government supervision. In fact, the council had given approval as early as September for direct, reciprocal flights for the holiday.

The press release did not acknowledge or respond to the breakthrough that the KMT delegation had claimed it made.

While all parties involved seemed willing to implement direct, reciprocal flights, there was no consensus as to where credit was due or how flight details would be negotiated and by whom.

While an apparent trip to China by the government-authorized Taipei Airlines Association was shrouded in secrecy, the KMT delegation was given a high profile welcome at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, a venue usually reserved for foreign dignitaries.

Also see stories:

TSU slams KMT's charter flight negotiation initiative

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