Tue, Jan 18, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Analysts say deal won't affect relations

AFP , TAIPEI

A landmark agreement to allow the first direct flights between China and Taiwan in more than 50 years is unlikely to ease relations between the rivals, politicians and analysts say.

The decision to allow the flights for the Lunar New Year holiday was reached after weeks of discussion held amid increased tensions over Taiwan's sovereignty.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hoped the agreement showed new efforts by Taiwan to mend ties with China, spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文 ) said.

"The agreement ... is a first step of the government seeking a milder approach to reconcile with China," Cheng said.

But it has changed little between them, said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭).

"It would be unrealistic to be over-optimistic about the outlook of the delicate Taiwan-China ties," Chang said. "The fundamental situation across the Taiwan Strait remains unchanged."

Chang said the approval of the direct air links between Jan. 29 and Feb. 20 was merely part of China's strategy in dealing with Taiwan.

"On the one hand, Beijing has tried to display its `goodwill' in the chartered flight issue in order to win the hearts of Taiwan people," he said.

"But on the other hand, Beijing has stood tough, pledging to fight independence. This is the so-called `two-pronged' policy," he said.

Talks to finalize the agreement did not touch on the core of the dispute -- Beijing's "one China principle," said Chang Lin-cheng (張麟徵), political science professor at the National Taiwan University.

"When things come to the `one China principle,' Chen [Shui-bian (陳水扁)] could not possibly give up his line," Chang said.

While not affecting the basic problems between the two, the pact could be a step forward in establishing better transport links, said Tamkang University's Chang Wu-yueh (張五岳).

"It could be a cue for some kind of talks for the comprehensive direct transportation links," he said.

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