Tue, Sep 12, 2006 - Page 3 News List

KMT urges shorter cross-strait air routes

CHARTER FLIGHTS A trio of KMT lawmakers met with the head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office last week and said that he had agreed to the idea of ``shortcut routes''

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators who recently returned from a trip to Beijing yesterday asked the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) to speed up efforts to shorten cross-strait air routes for charter flights.

Top council officials, however, reiterated that this issue is not something the government can do without formal contact with the Chinese government.

The executive director of the KMT's policy coordination department, Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), and fellow legislators Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) and Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) held a press conference in the Legislative Yuan yesterday to convey a message from the director of China's State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).

The three lawmakers met with Chen in Beijing last Thursday and returned to Taipei on Friday. According to Tseng, they discussed cross-strait tourism, weekend charter flights and agricultural forums with Chen.

Tseng said that Chen has agreed to allow a "shortcut route" between Taiwan and China that would not require a stopover in a third location and asked the MAC to push to implement the suggestion as soon as possible.

Tseng said that it takes between seven and seven-and-a-half hours to fly from Taipei to Beijing, or six hours to six-and-a-half hours to reach Shanghai, because the flights have to stop over in Hong Kong.

In order not to waste the time and money of Taiwan businesspeople and students who are flying back and forth between Taiwan and China, Tseng said the KMT had proposed a "shortcut air route" and Chen had agreed to the idea.

"Under the premise that we would not discuss navigational territory, a direct flight would only take two hours from Taipei to Beijing and 80 minutes from Taipei to Shanghai, which would save a great deal in terms of airfares and time," Tseng said.

He also said that the opening up of Taiwan for Chinese tourism should go along with weekend charter flights and the KMT caucus backs the combination of these two plans.

"We think it is better to implement these plans at the end of October. They should not be delayed until November," Tseng said. "We hope the Mainland Affairs Council could carry them out as soon as possible."

The council said it has been pushing these policies but its premise has always been that any new progress in cross-strait relations should be achieved as the conclusion of governmental and official negotiations.

As for the air route of cross-strait charter flights, MAC Secretary-General Chan Chih-hung (詹志宏) said that Taiwan has suggested that the flights could fly over Inchon, South Korea, or Japan'e Ryukyu Islands to save time.

"If China agrees with our suggestion, this issue could be realized in a short period of time," Chan said.

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