President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) never made any announcements on the date cross-strait weekend charter flights would commence, nor did he promise to implement cross-strait weekend charter flights by July 4, Ma spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said yesterday.
Lo was speaking in response to Straits Exchange Foundation chairman-designate Chiang Pin-kung’s (江丙坤) comments yesterday that the new administration would most likely fail to stick to its pledge on weekend flights.
Chiang, a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice chairman, said the party had never set a specific date and that it was rather a think tank affiliated with the KMT that had come up with the July 4 date.
“Cross-strait flights will require much negotiation on both sides. It would be too hasty to set a date,” he said.
He said that many technical issues were involved in opening up regular cross-strait flights, including visas, flight routes and airspace control.
“The issue is not as simple as having the planes fly back and forth,” he said.
“Media coverage on the start date for cross-strait charter flights was merely speculation. It’s overhasty to speculate on cross-strait relations before the new administration assumes office,” Lo said outside KMT headquarters.
The timetable was first proposed by the KMT-affiliated National Policy Foundation’s Sustainable Development Division during a meeting on April 3, where division convener George Chen (陳世圯) said Ma had approved the timetable.
The division also gave a presentation on the timetable during a KMT Central Standing Committee meeting on April 22. KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) had vowed that the KMT would spare no effort in helping Ma carry out his cross-strait platform.
Asked to comment on the timetable, Ma said he had promised to open weekend charter flights in July and that July 4 was chosen because it was the first Friday of the month, adding that charter flights would not begin on weekdays.
Wu brushed off concerns that Ma would fail to carry out his cross-strait policy, calling on the public not to overstate the issue.
“We all want to carry out the policy according to the timetable, but a delay of a few days is no big deal,” Wu said yesterday after attending an event in Taipei.
Vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), who also attended the event, declined to comment.
However, Chiang said later yesterday he would still do his best to make weekend cross-strait charter flights on July 4 possible after he assumes the SEF chairmanship. He said he believed China would also cooperate with the foundation on this, as it would benefit both sides.
In related news, the US said it hoped US airlines would be allowed to offer flights between Taiwan and China once direct links are established. Taipei has said foreign airlines would be excluded in the initial stage.
Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, made the request to Taiwanese trade representative Liang Kuo-hsin (梁國新), hoping that when Taiwan opens direct air links with China, US airlines would be allowed to fly across the Taiwan Strait, the Chinese-language Commercial Times said.
In his response, Liang allegedly told Hammond-Chambers that the participation of foreign airlines was unlikely in the initial stages.
The US is the first country to have shown interest in the route.
Once weekend charters flights are established, they will be expanded to daily charter flights and then regular flights, with Taipei and Beijing granting each other the right to fly on to a foreign destination — also known as the “fifth freedom.”
Additional reporting by CNA
China reported 45 new COVID-19 cases for Saturday, down from 54 the previous day, with all but one involving travelers from overseas, the country’s health authority said yesterday. In the past seven days, China has reported 313 imported cases of the novel coronavirus, but only six confirmed cases of domestic transmission, Chinese National Health Commission data showed. Most of those imported cases have involved Chinese returning home from abroad. Airlines have been ordered to sharply cut international flights from yesterday, while restrictions on foreigners entering the country went into effect on Saturday. Five more people died on Saturday, all of them in Wuhan,
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
‘HEROIC’: A lack of personal protective equipment has led to high infection rates among health workers in places like Spain and Italy, a nurses’ association said More equipment is needed to protect the world’s nurses working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives, the head of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said. “They are heroic. I think there is no other way to describe what they are doing at this moment,” said Howard Catton, a British nurse who is the council’s CEO. Infection rates of 9 percent and 12 to 14 percent have been reported among health workers in Italy and Spain respectively, he said, adding that nurses have died in the two nations, as well as Iran and Indonesia. “We have no doubt