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Cross-Straits charter flights promising
By Xing Zhigang & Chen Qide (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-10 00:18

A breakthrough may be expected in launching two-way, round-trip and non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Straits next month after Beijing officially agreed to such an arrangement yesterday.

Chen Yunlin, minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, expressed a welcome to the proposal raised by Taiwan's "mainland affairs council" while urging the Taiwan authorities to honour its pledge.

"If Taiwan can keep its words and is willing to take flexible measures, mainland-Taiwan air links can be totally achieved this year," he told a delegation of Taiwanese opposition politicians.

Chen Yunlin (right), director of Taiwan Affairs Office of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee, meets with Tseng Yung-chuan, director of the Kuomintang's central policy committee January 10, 2005 in Beijing. [newsphoto]
Once the two-way, direct cross-Straits charter flight plan is put into place during the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, it would be the first such air links in more than five decades because Taipei has banned mainland airplanes since 1949.

Chen demanded non-government talks be held between industrial associations and airlines across the Straits to work out technical and business details for the charter flights.

Any move by Taipei to complicate non-government negotiations under the excuse of "public right" and "security" goes against the interests of the broad mass of Taiwan compatriots, he said.

KMT legislator John Chang (center) speaks to the reporters. [newsphoto]
The island has held out for governmental talks to pave the way for the participation of mainland airlines in the charter flights.

Chen met with the six-member Kuomintang (KMT) delegation, which arrived in Beijing on Sunday to push for direct cross-Straits charter flights during the 2005 Spring Festival, which falls on February 9.

Scores of representatives from mainland-based Taiwanese-funded enterprises and Taiwanese airlines also attended the meeting.

"Lawmaker" Tseng Yung-chuan, head of the KMT group, quoted Chen as saying the mainland agrees to the model for "non-stop, round-trip, multi-destination flights by carriers on both sides."

"Minister Chen told us the direct charter flight programme for the 2005 Spring Festival will be officially started from today and preparations will come in coming days," Tseng said after the meeting.

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