Sat, Dec 18, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Ball in China's court on flights, MAC says

PESSIMISM Despite Taiwan's repeated calls to run Lunar New Year charter flights, Beijing has not responded, and the MAC thinks talks on any subject are unlikely

CNA , Taipei

Taiwan has made its stance explicitly clear on cross-strait charter flights for the Lunar New Year holiday period, and the ball is now in Beijing's court as to whether such flights will materialize, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said yesterday.

Taiwan has unveiled a set of principles and a feasible consultative formula for holiday charter flight negotiations. However, Beijing has so far not made any positive response to Taiwan's repeated calls for negotiations, Chiu said.

Whether the two-way, non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Strait during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday can be implemented hinges on Beijing's willingness, he said.

Chiu noted that the MAC convened a meeting Nov. 12 with representatives from six major industrial and business associations in Taiwan on issues concerning the Lunar New Year charter flights, adding that the MAC values the entrepreneurs' opinions and heeds them when formulating related policies.

Chiu also once again urged Beijing to heed the will of the Taiwan people.

Chiu's remarks came a day after MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said that the prospects of cross-strait charter flights being implemented have grown dim.

Wu made the remarks after China's Taiwan Affairs Office sternly criticized President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) a day earlier and gave a lukewarm response to a question about whether Beijing would allow direct cross-strait charter flights during the forthcoming Lunar New Year holiday to facilitate the return for family reunions of large numbers of Taiwan businesspeople operating in China.

Noting that Beijing interpreted the results of Taiwan's just-concluded legislative elections, in which the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its pro-independence allies failed to win a majority, as a success of its containment policy against the DPP administration, Wu said he is not optimistic about a resumption of cross-strait talks any time soon.

He added that he is also pessimistic about the possibility of opening the special charter flight services during the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls between Feb. 6 and Feb. 13 next year.

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