Sat, Dec 14, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Taipei and Beijing trade barbs over charter-flight rules

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan and China traded accusations yesterday over indirect charter flights during the Lunar New Year, with Taipei complaining that Beijing has released only unofficial guidelines for the flights to domestic airlines.

"China should officially announce its guidelines," said Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) at a weekly news conference yesterday morning.

However the head of the Taiwan division of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Pu Zhaozhou (浦照洲), said there was no basis for Chen's complaint.

"He did not tell the truth. We presented our guidelines to Taiwan's carriers as early as last month," Pu told Taiwanese reporters.

Charter flights have been in a state of limbo since China declared that unofficial talks involving non-governmental bodies are needed to discuss technical aspects of the matter, while Taiwan maintains that negotiations aren't necessary.

Chen called on China to announce its application guidelines yesterday, saying that documentation given to Taiwanese airlines is not "official."

"There is nothing in those papers to show that the guidelines were released from the CAAC. How can we be sure about the guidelines' effectiveness?" Chen said.

China rejects contact with Taiwan's government officials, and has instead presented its guidelines directly to private airline associations.

Pu said that technical problems with cross-strait charter flights should be negotiated by airlines.

"The uncertainty with realizing such a plan is not with China, but with Taiwan," Pu said.

Chen dismissed Pu's remarks by saying that Taiwan wants a smooth negotiation process.

"China is a great country. Why does it want to avoid the simple procedure of officially announcing the guidelines for application?" Chen said.

Chen said China could announce guidelines at a news conference or post them on official Web sites. He added that the guidelines that China "surreptitiously" gave Taiwan's airlines state that "sensitive words" may not be used in any of the documentation carriers use to file their applications.

"What's a sensitive word? The Chinese side should make this clear," Chen said.

The phrase is widely interpreted as a euphemism for references to Taiwan's formal name, the Republic of China.

But Chen said that, even though China has not made clear its guidelines, the plan could still be realized if domestic airlines file their applications with both sides and are granted approval.

In a related development, the Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po, regarded as a Beijing mouthpiece, reported that the CAAC had confirmed its receipt of an application from a Taiwan carrier to operate charter flights during the Lunar New Year between Taipei and Shanghai with transit stops in Hong Kong or Macau.

The report did not name the carrier.

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