Taiwan opposition leader urges direct cross-Strait air links

Updated: 2007-01-31 18:04

BEIJING -- Taiwan opposition leader and former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou has urged the government to open Taipei's airport to direct air links with the Chinese mainland to encourage mainland tourists to visit.

Taiwan authorities could begin to allow large numbers of mainland tourists to enter the island from April.

Taiwan should seize this opportunity to initiate cross-Strait direct air links, local media quoted Ma, chairman of the Kuomintang Party, telling his mayoral successor Hau Lung-bin, who is a member of Kuomintang.

Normally, air travelers crossing the Strait have to commute through Hong Kong, a costly practice that has been in place for decades due to once frosty relations between the two sides.

"We will end up handing Hong Kong good opportunities to make money, if we do not allow direct air travel," Ma said.

He said Taiwan would lose even more, as overseas investors, looking to take advantage of the island's location, are generally let down by the lack of convenient transport between Taiwan and the vast market on the mainland.

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