Negotiating with China to allow transit stops in Taiwan for Chinese citizens headed elsewhere will be the “most important” transport issue between the two sides, Deputy Transportation Minister Chen Chwen-jing (陳純敬) said on Monday.
Speaking at a forum on economics and finance legislation in the year ahead, Chen said that allowing cross-strait layovers is the next logical step, after the establishment of direct transportation links in late 2008 led to dramatic growth in sea, air, passenger and cargo transportation between the two sides.
“The thing to do next should be expanding the benefits of cross-strait links and soliciting Chinese to travel to other countries via Taiwan,” he said while presiding over the seminar, sponsored by the non-profit Academy of Promoting Economic Legislation.
While Chen called the layovers “the most important of all the important [issues] in cross-strait air transportation talks,” he also said that it will take hard work to accomplish due to mutual issues of political and domestic trust, which are “certainly not easy.”
Also speaking at the event, National Chiao Tung University professor Feng Cheng-min (馮正民) said that if a breakthrough can be achieved in passenger and cargo transit, Taiwan will be able to develop a niche market in transportation logistics.
Roger Han (韓梁中), senior vice president of China Airlines, Taiwan’s largest air carrier, said that Taiwan and China have made great strides in cross-strait transportation links and have found solutions to more than 80 percent of the problems they once faced.
Han expressed hope that transport ties can continue to generate economic benefits — particularly through transit stops.
He said that only Chinese are barred from making transit stops at Taiwan’s airports, which he said was both “strange and unreasonable.”
Taiwanese can now transit to Europe via China, but Chinese passengers still cannot go to a third destination via Taiwan.
“The most convenient route for people in Xiamen to travel to the US is via Taiwan, not Beijing,” Han said.
The obstacle is that China requires its citizens to have an entry permit for Taiwan, even for a transfer — though they are allowed to transfer in Taiwan when heading back to China from abroad, he said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said that he is not against cross-strait talks, but the government should ensure that Taiwan is in the most favorable position in negotiations.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Ken-te (陳根德) said that cross-strait talks should not be hostage to politics, and that the government should act irrespective of politics to obtain the best conditions for businesses.