KMT reveals timetable for direct cross-Strait flights

Updated: 2008-04-15 11:27

The Kuomintang, which will become the ruling party in Taiwan after Ma Ying-jeou is sworn in on May 20, wants to bring in more mainland tourists, make the yuan convertible and implement a plan for more direct weekend chartered flights across the Taiwan Strait starting in July, the Taipei-based Commercial Times reported.

The report said the weekend chartered flights will begin on the first weekend in July, and flights will be arranged from Friday to Monday.

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It is expected direct chartered flights will operate daily before the end of the year, the newspaper said.

KMT vice chairman, 75-year-old Chiang Pin-kung is scheduled to leave for the mainland April 20 as head of a mission for talks with Beijing on these issues, the report said, citing a party official.

But Chiang on Tuesday denied the report that he would visit the mainland soon, saying there won't be a visit to the mainland before the end of April.

Chiang said he would go to the mainland before May 20 to see businesspeople from Taiwan in the capacity of KMT vice chairman.

On Monday, Ma announced that Chiang will be appointed chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, an organization in charge of dealings with the mainland. The official said while the mainland has proposed Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Xiamen as destinations for the prospective cross-Strait flights, Taipei will propose the addition of Fuzhou.

Taiwan is also ready to open Taoyuan and Kaohsiung airports in the initial stage, to be followed by Taipei and Taichung later, he added.

Historic Opportunity

On Saturday, Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chinese president, met with Vincent Siew, chairman of the Taiwan-based Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation, in Boao, Hainan Province, saying the economic and trade exchanges and cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan was facing a historic opportunity and needed joint efforts from both sides for further progress,

Hu said under the new circumstances, the mainland would continue promoting cross-Straits economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation.

The mainland would also make efforts to push forward negotiations on weekend charter flights and mainland tourists' travel to Taiwan, Hu said.

Siew said the economies of the mainland and Taiwan were closely related, and the development of trade and economic relations had contributed to cross-Straits stability.

He hoped the weekend charter flights program would be launched as soon as possible and mainland tourists would soon travel to Taiwan, adding that direct flights and normal trade ties had become an inevitable choice.

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