Fri, Jan 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

John Chang warns MAC over flight rules

CNA , TAIPEI

Passengers walk by two life-size cutouts of China Airlines flight attendants in the departure hall of CKS International Airport yesterday. The carrier will take the lead on cross-strait Lunar New Year charter travel by flying from Taipei to Beijing on Jan. 29.

PHOTO: AP

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chang (章孝嚴) yesterday threatened to push for a cut to the Mainland Affairs Council's (MAC) budget if Taiwanese students studying in China are not allowed to board cross-strait charter flights during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Taiwanese and Chinese negotiators reached an agreement last month in Macau allowing six carriers from both sides to offer flights to Taiwanese businesspeople returning for the Lunar New Year holiday on a "non-stop, round-trip, multi-destination" basis.

The landmark service, however, is restricted to businesspeople and their families, a move that has upset Taiwanese students studying in China.

Chang, who is the illegitimate son of former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), was speaking during a news conference at the Legislative Yuan.

"Aren't these students also Taiwanese who need to take a plane home?" he asked.

A former KMT secretary-general and foreign minister, Chang said the Chinese authorities were not opposed to Taiwanese students in China taking the charter flights.

On the contrary, he said, it was the MAC who will not allow students on the flights because Taiwan does not recognize degrees from China.

But Chang said the matter had nothing to do with whether Taiwan recognizes academic degrees obtained in China. He urged the MAC not to confuse the issues.

Chang also said that if Tai-wanese students were not to be allowed to take the charter flights, he would push for a reduction to the council's NT$75 million Chinese Development Fund budget in the new fiscal year.

That fund is a non-profit initiative which promotes cross-strait civilian exchanges.

Noting that the booking rate for the cross-strait Lunar New Year charter flights in 2003 was only 69 percent, Chang said that if students were allowed to board, it would not only benefit the students, but also help increase bookings.

In response to Chang's remarks, MAC Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said that Chang should not complicate the situation by raising new problems.

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