Thu, Feb 15, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Foundation rejects reports of annual gathering boycott

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Straits Exchange Foundation yesterday rejected media reports of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople boycotting an annual holiday gathering with government officials over a reduction in the number of cross-strait flights before the Lunar New Year holiday.

The foundation said in a statement that more than 100 associations of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and 200 of their chairpersons or honorary chairpersons had signed up for the event.

“We have seen many people sign up for the gathering, which is to take place in Taipei on Wednesday next week. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is also to join us at the event,” the foundation said, adding that it did not see a drop in the number of registered participants from previous years.

The statement followed a report by Chinese-language online news platform Up Media on Sunday quoting an anonymous foundation official as saying that due to frozen cross-strait relations under the Tsai administration, some China-based businesspeople have admitted to being under pressure from Beijing not to attend the annual event.

The number of participants this year could decline, given that relations across the Taiwan Strait have run further aground since the Tsai administration earlier this month decided against approving applications by two Chinese airlines for an additional 176 flights for the holiday, the report said.

That decision followed Beijing’s Jan. 4 unilateral activation of the northbound M503 flight route and the W121, W122 and W123 extension routes, which contravened a 2015 cross-strait agreement.

Taipei’s decision has caused grievances among some Taiwanese based in China, reportedly due to more expensive airfare and greater difficulty in securing a ticket.

“To ensure their smooth return home, the foundation has reminded China-based Taiwanese businesspeople on multiple occasions to make travel arrangements for the Lunar New Year holiday early. We have also proposed six alternative travel options,” the foundation said.

The foundation said it also launched hotlines to assist with travel arrangements, which only a few people called to ask for assistance.

Rejecting accusations that the government’s policy has caused many to be unable to return home for the holiday, the foundation said that as of Tuesday there were still seats available, calling such allegations a “pseudo-issue.”

No Taiwanese airlines have been found driving up ticket prices during the period, it added.

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