Thu, Oct 31, 2002 - Page 3 News List

China's remarks on direct charter flights please John Chang

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

China's remarks on direct charter flights received mixed reviews from lawmakers yesterday.

KMT Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴) painted the Chinese response as positive and urged the government to seize the opportunity to lift the ban on direct air links.

But DPP legislative whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) said the request by Chinese air companies to take part in prospective talks would only cause difficulties.

Chang, who has floated the idea of direct charter flights to facilitate the return of Taiwanese business people in China for the Lunar New Year holiday, said he would go to China with domestic air companies next month to negotiate the matter.

He said point-to-point cross-strait charter flight services would be the best way to help Taiwanese businesspeople return to Taiwan before the opening of direct links.

Chang, a member of the KMT Central Standing Committee, made the remarks when he gave a report on his proposal at a regular meeting of the KMT Central Standing Committee.

Chang said he is glad that the Cabinet has directed the Mainland Affairs Council to complete its assessment in two weeks, allowing potential passengers ample time to make preparations.

"So long as all technical questions are settled by early December, China-based Taiwanese businesspeople may fly home nonstop for the Lunar New Year next February," he said.

Chang has initiated a petition calling for point-to-point, one-way charter flights.

He said 130 colleagues from across the political spectrum have signed the petition.

Though receptive to Chang's idea, the DPP doubts China would set aside political disputes in an attempt to promote direct transport links.

Wang noted there is no bona-fide civilian agency in China, which means the talks on direct charters would inevitably involve government officials.

Also, he said the principle of reciprocity suggested by Beijing has made Chang's one-way charters infeasible.

In related news, DPP Legislator Chang Ching-fang (張清芳) urged the government to make it easier for Chinese businessmen to stay in Taiwan in order to increase their willingness to invest in the local real-estate market.

He remarked that only one application has been filed since the government opened the market to Chinese people in August.

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