A group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators left for China yesterday, saying that their trip was aimed at building bridges across the Taiwan Strait by initiating negotiations over cross-strait charter flights.
"Since the government hasn't made any progress in starting negotiations with China, the KMT wants to pressure the government to step up the pace," said Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), leader of the group.
A high-ranking Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official, requesting anonymity, yesterday criticized the KMT trip, saying that it would only serve to destroy the progress the government has made.
The official said that after Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) announcement on Aug. 3 that Taiwan is willing to discuss cross-strait charter flights for passengers and cargo transportation alike, Beijing responded that it welcomed Hsieh's remarks. This development proved that some consensus about this issue had been achieved, he said.
"How can the KMT legislators say that the government hasn't made any progress?" the official said.
It would be immoral of the KMT to destroy any progress through the group's interference or force negotiations to come to a standstill, the official said.
The official urged the KMT legislators to assume the customary role of an opposition party by monitoring government policy, not creating difficulties for the government's efforts to advance the development of cross-strait relations.
As the government has commissioned the Taipei Airlines Association (TAA) -- a private group composed of local airlines -- to be its representative in arranging details of the negotiations, the MAC said that the KMT could exchange opinions with China but should not undermine the government's authority.
Huang Wei-feng (
In related news,the Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday granted a request filed by local carriers to fly over China's territorial airspace, urging the Chinese authorities to also give the green light to the request to help the carriers save on fuel costs amid skyrocketing oil prices.
Taiwanese carriers are allowed to file applications to the ministry's Civil Aeronautics Administration starting today, according to an announcement yesterday.
The nation's two largest carriers, China Airlines (華航) and EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空), were delighted over this measure, saying that they are ready to file their applications.
China Airlines will apply for permission to reroute 44 passenger flights per week over China's airspace -- including flights between Taipei and Hanover, Delhi, Vienna, Frankfurt and Chiang Mai -- and 20 cargo flights per week, including flights between Taipei and Abu Dhabi, Delhi and Luxembourg.
EVA Airways will apply for rerouted flights between Taipei and Paris, Mumbai, Delhi, Hanoi, Vientiane and Dubai.
Additional reporting by staff reporter Jessie Ho
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