Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Progress made in cross-strait travel talks: MAC chief

STAFF WRITER , WITH AGENCIES

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said yesterday that bilateral talks on opening up Taiwan to Chinese tourists and direct cross-strait charter flights have made significant progress.

Chen made the remarks during a gathering with reporters after attending a Dragon Boat Festival seminar in Hualien with China-based Taiwanese businesspeople.

Chen reiterated that the opening to Chinese tourists and the establishment of direct passenger and cargo charter flights were high on the government's agenda for negotiations with China.

"Now that the two sides have achieved major breakthroughs in bilateral technical talks concerning these issues, the Chinese side should speed up its pace in resolving the remaining details and wrap up the talks as soon as possible," Chen said.

"Our side has been doing its best to complete the negotiations as quickly as possible under the directive issued by Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄)," he said.

Chen told Reuters in a separate interview that all the logistics have been worked out, but Beijing has insisted that Taiwan be known as "China, Taiwan," despite Taipei's objections.

"Things will happen soon," Chen said, referring to when a deal would be reached.

There are an estimated 1 million Taiwanese living and working in China, and Taiwanese have invested an estimated US$100 billion into ventures in China.

China is also Taiwan's top trading partner.

Many of the businesspeople in Hualien said their top priority was getting more regular cross-strait flights.

They expressed frustration at how long talks have dragged on.

"Our home is in Taiwan, but our workplaces are in China," said Wang Jen-sheng (王任生), president of the Taiwan business association in Zhengzhou, China.

Taipei and Beijing have been negotiating a tourism agreement for more than a year.

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