Sun, May 18, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Charter flights an additional challenge to military: MND

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The opening of direct flights across the Taiwan Strait will have an impact on national security, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a press release on Friday night.

“The major impact will be that the military will have less time to respond should there be a threat by air or sea,” it said.

“But, once the policy is carried out, the military will make all the necessary adjustments to its security measures and training of personnel,” the statement said.

The ministry will also increase anti-terrorist training for its troops to prevent terrorists from hijacking planes to launch attacks.

The statement came after president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) asked the ministry at a briefing to formulate supplementary measures for the possible opening of cross-strait flights.

Ma has promised to lift the five-decade ban on direct air links with China by launching weekend tourist charter flights on July 4, with a future expansion to daily tourist charter flights and eventually to regular passenger flights across the Taiwan Strait.

The ministry said the new policy would not only challenge national defense but also interrupt its regular training schedule, now that more air corridors must be set aside for the direct flights.

The ministry said the flights must involve fixed locations (airports) and fixed schedules.

The ministry said it would also increase surveillance on all air and sea traffic to bolster preparedness against potential threats.

“It is our hope that such a ‘situation’ [as an attack by sea or air] will never happen,” it said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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