Detained Taiwan coast guard goes home
( 2003-09-16 07:14) (China Daily)
A Chinese mainland fishing crew captured a Taiwan coast-guard officer after a scuffle on their boat in which shots were fired. But the mainland Monday allowed the officer to return to Taiwan.
The crew brought Chiang Shao-nan back to the mainland after he and three other Taiwan coast-guard officers boarded their vessel for an inspection on Sunday near Matsu Island. Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said this in a statement Monday.
Taiwan coast-guard officers injured two fishermen and fired at the mainland boat, according to China News Service (CNS).
To defend themselves from further attacks, the fishermen on the Minchangyu No 4108 boat subdued Chiang and forced his colleagues to swim back to their boat.
Impounding Chiang's M-16 rifle, they took the officer to Meihua Port in Fujian Province, about 10 kilometres west of Matsu. The injured fishermen are being treated in a hospital there.
"The Taiwan Straits has been a fishing area for both Fujian and Taiwan fishermen from ancient times," an official with the Taiwan Affairs Office of Fujian Province was quoted by CNS as saying Monday.
"The Taiwan authorities should respect the reality and ensure the normal operation of the fishing industry for both Fujian and Taiwan."
He said the mainland does not want to see disputes arise in the fishing area.
Later Monday, Chiang returned to Matsu on a fishing boat which Taiwan lawmakers sent to pick him up from Meihua Port, according to television footage. He told a news conference later that he had been treated well by the mainland fishermen during his detention.
Direct Straits flights
In another development, a China Civil Aviation Association spokesman said Monday that direct flights between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are an economic, not a political matter.
Spokesman Pu Zhaozhou made the remarks in response to the Taiwan authorities' proposal on Wednesday to start regular indirect cargo flights to and from the mainland later this month. Pu said the flights should be direct.
However, Taiwan authorities have insisted that chartered cargo flights land in Hong Kong or Macao before they reach the mainland.
Tsai Ing-wen, head of Taiwan's "Mainland Affairs Council," said indirect cargo flights between Taiwan and Shanghai could begin on September 25. Only Taiwanese airlines would be allowed to operate the flights.
Pu urged Taiwanese authorities to allow mainland airlines to operate cargo services to Taiwan island, on an equal footing with Taiwanese airlines.
"Airliners from both the mainland and Taiwan should participate in direct flights equally. The mainland calls for two-way direct cargo flights across the Taiwan Straits to save time and expense," he said.
Pu said the China Civil Aviation Association welcomes non-governmental aviation organizations from Taiwan to the mainland for negotiations on direct flights across the Straits.
"It's reasonable for the Chinese airlines to take part in cargo flights across the Taiwan Straits in accordance with aviation practice and the common business principle of fairness," he said.
Transportation links across the Straits were severed after the civil war in 1949. Both sides have said they want to restore the links but the Taiwan authorities have set political preconditions on direct flights.
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