Tue, Feb 01, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Cross-strait charters for cargo being considered

DPA , TAIPEI

The government is considering launching cargo charter flights with China to ease cross-strait tension, a Chinese-language newspaper said yesterday.

"After launching passenger charter flights for the Chinese New Year, authorities plan to launch passenger charter flights for the next festival, the Dragon Boat Festival. After that, they may allow cargo charter flights shortly afterwards," the paper quoted Council for Economic Planning and Development Chairman Hu Sheng-cheng (胡勝正) as saying.

"Cargo charter flights could cut the cost of Taiwan's exports to China. It is particularly important for Taiwan's export of electronics products to China, which totals US$20 billion each year," he said.

"However, it is up to the Mainland Affairs Council to decide when to launch cargo charter flights," Hu added.

The Dragon Boat Festival falls on July 11 this year.

Taiwan and China launched passenger charter flights last Saturday for the Lunar New Year.

The charter flights, between Jan. 29 and Feb. 20, has paved the way for launching more charter flights and even regular flights between Taiwan and China.

Since Taiwan allowed indirect trade with China in 1987, its indirect trade with China via Hong Kong has tripled from US$5.7 billion in 1988 to US$23.7 billion between January and November last year.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said on Sunday that the charter flights are a good start for improving Taipei-Beijing ties.

"We will continue to promote cross-strait exchanges with goodwill and sincerity. I believe it won't be long before the door of cross-strait reconciliation, cooperation and peace is opened," Chen told reporters in the Solomon Islands.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has urged the government to further loosen the ban on direct air links with China.

"This is only a partial launch of direct flights. We should launch charter flights for other festivals or even for every weekend," Ma said on Sunday.

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