The government would not approve the launch of any cross-strait aviation or maritime passenger services without first consulting national security officials and those in charge of the inspection and quarantine of agricultural products, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
The policy would be officially implemented before the end of this year after an amendment to the Regulations Governing the Approval and Administration of Direct Cross-Strait Sea Transport Between the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區海運直航許可管理辦法), the ministry said, adding that the change does not need approval from the Legislative Yuan.
Flight and maritime passenger carriers can currently launch cross-strait transportation services as long as they are reviewed and approved by the Maritime Port Bureau, the ministry said.
However, due to a severe outbreak of African swine fever in China, the ministry said that it has decided to scrutinize new cross-strait aviation and shipping to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
In addition to safeguarding the nation from disease, the changes would ensure national security and improve coordination and cooperation between agencies, it said.
Once the policy is implemented, the ministry would seek the input of the Mainland Affairs Council, the National Security Bureau and the Council of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine before deciding on whether to approve any new service, it added.
“If these agencies are involved in the review of new flight and shipping services, they can prepare in advance for the possible outcomes,” the ministry said. “For example, the Council of Agriculture could project how many quarantine officers would be needed for inspections.”
The policy would also include the review of applications by maritime passenger carriers to continue offering services on shipping routes, the ministry said, adding that carriers would be allowed to offer services on a route for two years.
The nation has only three vessels plying direct cross-strait maritime passenger routes: the high-speed Natchan Rera (麗娜輪), Fujian Cross Strait Ferry Corp’s Haixiahao (海峽號) and the Cosco Star (中遠之星).
The Natchan Rera operates between Taipei and Pingtan in Fujian Province, while the Haixiahao provides shipping services to Pingtan from Taipei and Taichung.
The Cosco Star serves passengers traveling between Taichung or Keelung and China’s Xiamen and Taizhou.
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