Taiwan eased the indirect charter flight rule yesterday by allowing all China-based Taiwanese business-people and their families to use the service during the Lunar New Year period once the plan is put into action.
During this period, groups can go home via the "small three links" route which originally only opened for Fujian-based Taiwanese businesspeople, officials said yesterday.
"We decided to provide two convenient channels to help Taiwanese businesspeople go home to celebrate Lunar New Year. One is the charter flights provided in Shanghai and the other is a ferry service between Xiamen and Kinmen -- the `small three links,'" said Shi Hwai-yow (許惠祐), secretary-general of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).
The SEF and the Mainland Affairs Council officials yesterday met representatives of Taiwanese businesspeople to discuss the charter flights service. After a two-hour meeting, officials and representatives reached a consensus to extend the scope of those qualified to benefit from the travel arrangements.
The meeting also concluded that the Taiwanese businesspeople associations will be responsible for working out a list of those who qualify.
Ten representatives of Taiwan-ese businesspeople from various Chinese cities attended the meeting, including those from Shanghai, Fujian and Nanking.
Shi recounted that during in the meeting Chang Han-wen (張漢文), chairman of the Taiwan Businessmen Association in Dongguan, suggested the government provide charter flights in Fujian as well since an estimated 40,000 Taiwanese businesspeople and their families live and work there. Shi said he would suggest to the government to take it into account.
As to the price of the charter flights, director of the MAC's economic affairs department Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成) said the price is expected to be lower than the cost of regular flights between Taipei and Shanghai via Hong Kong or Macau.
Flight price for a return trip between Taipei and Shanghai could be as low as NT$12,000.
Later yesterday, the representatives of Taiwanese businesspeople also met TSU lawmakers in a bid for their support in establishing Taiwanese schools and hospitals in China.
MAC Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said TSU lawmakers now better understand the needs of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople after the meeting.
Chen, however, declined to confirm whether TSU legislators would support plans to establish Taiwanese schools and hospitals in China.
The TSU is well known for opposing any outflow of capital to China.