The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday it will send an airline representative and the head of the Civil Aviation Association to landmark talks with China this weekend to set up two-way charter flights bringing Taiwanese business-people home for the Lunar New Year holiday.
"We have decided to appoint Michael Lo (樂大信) and Billy Chang (張國政) to organize a negotiation team to talk with the mainland side in Macau on Jan. 15," the MAC said in a statement released last night.
Lo, chairman of the Taipei Airlines Association (TAA), has already been authorized to represent the government in talks with China.
On Wednesday, Beijing said that, in addition to the MAC and its proxy the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation, it is "negotiable" for Taiwan to send officials like Chang, director of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, as consultants to talk with China.
The MAC yesterday called on China to live up to its words to speedily hold talks with Taiwan.
"We hope China's side can speedily inform us who will be on its negotiation list to talk with us and to confirm whether it agrees to the date proposed by us to talk," the MAC said in its press release.
If everything goes well, the charter flights will be the first in more than five decades to have planes from both Taiwan and China entering their respective territories for flight services.
The two sides have reached a tacit understanding that this year's holiday charter flights will be "bilateral, reciprocal and non-stop," unlike the flights in 2003, when Taiwanese airlines had to fly empty to Shanghai to pick up Taiwanese and bring them back with stopovers in either Hong Kong or Macau.
This time, the two sides will also talk about expanding the flight points to at least Beijing and Guangzhou, in addition to Shanghai.