Thu, Aug 21, 2003 - Page 3 News List

MAC promises direct links by spring

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A senior official with the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) says that the government will make cross-strait cargo transportation much easier and that direct links should be in place by March 20 next year -- the day of the presidential election.

"The direct transportation of cargo between Taiwan and China is a temporary and transitional measure that needs to be implemented before the materialization of all-out direct links," Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成), director of the council's economic affairs department, said yesterday

Fu declined to unveil further details of the implementation rules on which his council was working.

He did promise that the MAC would publicize the rules for the unprecedented operation "when the time is ripe."

In its assessment of cross-strait links released last week, the council said that planning for simpler cross-strait cargo transportation was one of its priorities.

Fu said the council became keenly aware of the need to expedite direct cargo transportation during the SARS outbreak this past spring.

"We noted that our business-people in China suffered great losses and inconvenience due to a large-scale reduction of international flights in that SARS-hit country and that greatly affected our citizens' plans to export goods and materials," Fu said.

The direct cargo links have since been proposed in hopes of improving efficiency for Taiwanese businesses in transporting goods and materials in or out of China through providing an alternative route by Taiwan.

Fu said that the MAC would take measures to guard the interests of Taiwanese people who are concerned about the negative impact that promised direct links would have on the economy and on their jobs.

"Protection will be achieved in several ways," Fu said.

"Maintaining a sound economic base for the country is essential, as it will prevent any possible hollowing-out from the prospective direct links," Fu said.

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