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Taiwanese applaud charter flight pact
By Li Dapeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-17 21:17

Taiwanese business people in East China's Fujian Province have given the thumbs-up to the landmark agreement for non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Straits this coming Spring Festival.

The agreement is a breakthrough in the history of relations between the mainland and Taiwan, said Wu Jinzhong, president of the Xiamen Taiwanese Enterprises Association.

Under the deal, 24 round-trip flights over Hong Kong will take Taiwan business people working on the mainland and their family members directly to and from Taipei and Kaohsiung to celebrate the Chinese lunar New Year, which falls on February 9. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are approved destinations on the mainland.

"I'm delighted to see that a favourable agreement has been agreed upon over the charter flight issue," Wu said.

But Wu also said it was a pity Xiamen had not been accepted as a mainland destination for the flights, although it had been on the mainland's proposal list.

He said the direct sea voyage between Xiamen and Jinmen still fails to meet all traffic needs when it comes to the rush season during the traditional Spring Festival.

Including Xiamen would provide another option for the large number of Taiwanese business people in southern Fujian cities such as Xiamen, Zhangzhou and Quanzhou, Wu said.

"I really wish to fly home directly next year," he added.

Chen Jiannan, president of the Fuzhou Taiwanese Enterprises Association, said the launch of charter flights was a good move and would be convenient for Taiwanese business people living in or around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

"But I still sincerely hope the real 'three links' is realized soon, which can really meet the long-term transport needs of people across the Straits," Chen said.

Chen said that for the coming festival, many Taiwanese in Fuzhou would have to choose Mawei-Matsu or Xiamen-Jinmen voyages back to Taiwan and others would fly home via Hong Kong or Macao as before.

Statistics from the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Fujian provincial government show that so far there are more than 100,000 Taiwanese people working in the province.

By the end of November 2004, Fujian had attracted contractual Taiwanese investment of US$14.45 billion, accounting for about a quarter of the mainland's total.

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