Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Hsieh reaffirms views on direct links


Yeh Chu-lan, top campaign aide to Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh, introduces Hsieh's election logo yesterday, which depicts seven figures standing over the word ''Taiwan.''


Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) reaffirmed his commitment on Friday to promote direct air links across the Taiwan Strait if he won next year's presidential election.

Hsieh made the remark while attending a gathering of Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China who had returned to Taipei for Mid-Autumn Festival.

Hsieh said he had faced pressure and criticism from radical pro-independence DPP members for advocating direct cross-strait air links and calling for more cross-strait exchanges.

Despite verbal attacks from some of his DPP colleagues, Hsieh said he would not flinch.

"I'll uphold what I think is good for our country and its people," he said.

Hsieh also shed more light on his ideas about opening direct cross-strait air links.

"To avoid disputes on whether cross-strait air routes are domestic or international in nature, I prefer to see the direct transportation service become reality by expanding charter flight services," Hsieh said, adding that the charter flights held on festivals could be expanded to cover other holidays or weekends, or be held on a regular basis. The number of destinations could also be expanded to cover all important cities, he said.

Hsieh said he would also strive to make it easier for Taiwanese businesspeople to return to Taiwan to launch new businesses.

At a separate setting on Thursday, Hsieh had said that setting a timeframe for opening direct transport links across the Taiwan Strait could give China the advantage.

Hsieh made the remarks after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential contender Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) challenged him to demand that the DPP administration open direct links with China by next January.

Ma's challenge came after Hsieh said that if he were elected, he would push for an expansion of cross-strait passenger charter flights from holidays to a regular weekly or daily service.

In response to Ma's challenge, Hsieh said that during his tenure as premier in 2005, he had made cross-strait cargo and passenger charter flights possible and had gradually expanded their scope.

He said that Ma's platform would see the government directly negotiate with China over the opening of direct links, which Hsieh said would not succeed because of the sovereignty issue and the question of whether cross-strait routes should be defined as domestic or international.

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